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Station Crew Conducts Research, Preps for Spacewalk

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Wed Jan 22, 2014 6:30 am via: NASA
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The Expedition 38 crew of the International Space Station conducted a variety of scientific experiments Tuesday and prepared for next week’s Russian spacewalk.

Flight Engineer Mike Hopkins spent most of his morning participating in the Energy experiment, which attempts to measure how much energy astronauts use during long-duration spaceflight and tracks changes in their energy balance. For Tuesday’s Energy session, Hopkins measured his oxygen uptake at rest before and after eating a prescribed breakfast. These measurements will be compared to readings collected prior to and following Hopkins’ mission aboard the station. Results from this study will contribute to crew health and performance and also will ensure that crew members are getting the proper amount of exercise and food allotments.

Meanwhile inside the station’s seven-windowed cupola, Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata conducted another session of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s advanced photography project, COSMO. Wakata set up the camera to capture imagery of potential auroras over Canada as well as night views of the Himalayas and Japan.

Wakata also gathered samples from an experiment known as the Burning and Suppression of Solids-2, or BASS-2, and packaged them for return to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft in March. Results from BASS-2, which takes a look at how certain solid materials burn and extinguish in microgravity, may lead to lead to improvements in spacecraft materials selection and strategies for putting out accidental fires aboard spacecraft. The research also provides scientists with improved computational models that will aid in the design of fire detection and suppression systems here on Earth.

Wakata took a brief break from his work to discuss human health in space with researchers and students at the Tsukuba Space Center in Japan.

Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio meanwhile conducted sound level measurements throughout the U.S. segment of the station.

Mastracchio also gathered and inspected tethers for use by Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy during a spacewalk that the two cosmonauts will conduct on Monday. The two cosmonauts are slated to complete the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras as part of a commercial agreement between a Canadian firm and the Russian Federal Space Agency. Kotov and Ryazanskiy previously attempted to install the cameras during a marathon 8-hour, 7-minute spacewalk on Dec. 27 – the longest Russian spacewalk ever conducted – but had to return them to the airlock when Russian flight controllers did not receive the expected telemetry.

Kotov and Ryazanskiy spent much of Tuesday preparing and inspecting their Orlan spacesuits for the excursion. Live NASA Television coverage of the spacewalk will begin at 8:30 a.m. EST Monday, with hatch opening scheduled for 9:10 a.m.

Kotov rounded out his workday packing trash inside the Russian Progress 52 cargo ship. That unmanned cargo vehicle, which delivered nearly three tons of supplies to the orbiting outpost back in July, is set to undock from the Pirs docking compartment in early February for a destructive re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin cleaned air ducts in the Russian segment of the station and performed routine maintenance on the life-support system in the Zvezda service module.

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