Work aboard the orbiting outpost resumed on Jan. 2, highlighted by a practice fire drill, set-up of the ultrasound equipment associated with the Human Research Facility and a leak check of the Quest airlock module using a jumper hose that is being evaluated for future support of airlock window replacements. The ultrasound equipment provides enlarged, three-dimensional images of the heart and other organs, muscles and blood vessels for both research and diagnostic applications.
The following day was dedicated to sound level measurements inside the various modules of the space station, part of an on-going effort to characterize the level of noise inside the station, and operation of the Zeolite Crystal Growth experiment, which scientists are using in an effort to grow crystals larger than can be grown on Earth. Zeolites form the backbone of the chemical processing industry. Larger, purer zeolite crystals could increase the amount of gasoline that can be produced from a barrel of oil, making the petrochemical industry more efficient.
Budarin worked with a Russian plant-growth experiment, and on inventories of Russian medical equipment and supplies and videotapes available for use on the station. He also conducted an inspection of the aft docking port of the Zvezda Service Module, where a Progress resupply vehicle will dock in February.
The crew is scheduled to enjoy a fairly relaxed weekend, with weekly housekeeping activities and routine private family and medical conferences on tap.
Bowersox is scheduled to resume work Monday with the FOOT (Foot/Ground Reaction Forces During Spaceflight), which looks at how the hips, legs and feet move in the absence of gravity, and at what changes occur in bones and muscles using a special pair of tights with 20 sensors.