The crew initially expected to greet Atlantis' crew this week. But the shuttle is set to launch Sept. 6 on mission STS-115 to bring a new truss section to the station, complete with a second set of 240-foot solar wings.
The mission was originally planned to launch Aug. 27. It was postponed first to check possible lightning damage and then due to Tropical Storm Ernesto. The delay gave Commander Pavel Vinogradov, Flight Engineer NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany more time to prepare for Atlantis' mission.
The crew packed items that will be returned to Earth and reviewed plans for the shuttle flight's three spacewalks. They also conducted normal station maintenance, daily exercise sessions and scientific experiments.
Williams spent parts of three days this week working with a cosmic radiation study called the Anomalous Long-Term Effects in Astronauts' Central Nervous Systems. The experiment tracks cosmic radiation while monitoring brain activity and recording the subject's visual perceptions. Williams spent one orbit, about 90 minutes, floating prone with sensor blocks over and beside his head. The experiment's results may help develop ways to protect future space fliers from the effects of cosmic radiation.
Later in the week, Williams worked with the Capillary Flow Effects experiment, studying the dynamics of capillary flow in microgravity. Insight gained from the experiment may help in the developments of fluid transport systems for future spacecraft.
Other work included testing a seal the astronauts replaced on an experiment facility called the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The glovebox, in the U.S. laboratory Destiny, provides a contained environment for experiments involving fluid, flame or fumes.