Encyclopedia Astronautica
2007.12.21 - ISS On-Orbit Status 12/21/07


Having passed the Day 60 mark in her flight, Dr. Peggy Whitson began her third session with the NASA/JSC experiment NUTRITION w/Repository, for which she had to forego exercising and food intake for eight hours.

After wakeup and before breakfast, FE-2 Dan Tani again accessed the SLEEP experiment (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) software for data logging and completing questionnaire entries in the experiment's laptop session file on the HRF-1 laptop for later downlink. (To monitor the crewmember's sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, Dan wears a special Actiwatch device which measures the light levels encountered by him as well as his patterns of sleep and activity throughout the Expedition. The log entries are done within 15 minutes of final awakening for seven consecutive days, as part of the crew's discretionary 'job jar' task list.)

Having passed the Day 60 mark in her flight, Dr. Peggy Whitson began her third session with the NASA/JSC experiment NUTRITION w/Repository, for which she had to forego exercising and food intake for eight hours. Today's protocol consisted of two blood draws (for Serum & Heparin). Later, the CDR set up the equipment for the 24-hour urine collections which start with the first void early tomorrow morning and continue through Sunday morning. (Acting as operator, Dan Tani as performed phlebotomy on Peggy Whitson, i.e., drawing blood samples (from an arm vein) which was first allowed to coagulate in the Repository, then spun in the HRF RC (Human Research Facility/Refrigerated Centrifuge) and finally placed in MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS). The RC was later powered off after a temperature reset to limit wear on the compressor, and cleaned. Background: NUTRITION is the most comprehensive in-flight study done by NASA to date of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight; this includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes. The Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile currently required on all U.S. Astronauts collects blood and urine samples preflight and postflight. NUTRITION expands this protocol by also capturing inflight samples and an additional postflight sample. Furthermore, additional measurements are included for samples from all sessions, including additional markers of bone metabolism, vitamin status, and hormone and oxidative stressor tests. The results will be used to better understand the impact of countermeasures (exercise and pharmaceuticals) on nutritional status and nutrient requirements. The Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile (MR016L), first started on two Mir crewmembers and then on all ISS US crews, nominally consists of two pre-flight and one post-flight analysis of nutritional status, as well as an in-flight assessment of dietary intake using the FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire). The current NUTRITION project expands MR016L testing in three ways: Addition of in-flight blood & urine collection (made possible by MELFI), normative markers of nutritional assessment, and a return session plus 30-day (R+30) session to allow evaluation of post-flight nutrition and implications for rehabilitation.)

FE-2 Tani conducted his second session of the LOCAD-PTS (Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System)/Phase 2 experiment, completing another LOCAD exploratory survey by taking single swab samples from five more surface sites in the station. In Phase 2, no media sides have to be prepared. (LOCAD uses small, thumb-sized 'microfluidic' cartridges that are read by the experiment reader. The cartridges contain dried extract of horseshoe crab blood cells and colorless dye. In the presence of the bacteria, the dried extract reacts strongly to turn the dye a green color. Therefore, the more green dye, the more microorganisms there are in the original sample. The handheld device tests this new analysis technology by sampling for the presence of gram negative bacteria in the sample in about 15 minutes, showing the results on a display screen. Background: Lab-on-a-Chip technology has an ever-expanding range of applications in the biotech industry. Chips are available (or in development) which can also detect yeast, mold, and gram positive bacteria, identify environmental contaminants, and perform quick health diagnostics in medical clinics. The technology has been used to swab the MERs (Mars Exploration Rovers) for planetary protection. With expanded testing on ISS, began by Sunita Williams in March/April this year, this compact technology has broad potential applications in space exploration--from monitoring environmental conditions to monitoring crew health. The current study should prepare for long-duration exploration by demonstrating a system that enables the crew to perform biochemical analysis in space without having to return samples to Earth.)

Afterwards, the FE-2 performed his daily status check on the BCAT-3 (Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-3) science payload, running by itself in Node-2 since 12/13 (briefly interrupted for EVA-13 photo support). The status check, conducted on the last image taken by the DCS 760 digital still camera which is controlled by EarthKAM software on an A31p laptop, is to verify proper image focus and camera alignment. (The SSC (Station Support Computer) is taking photography of the phase separation occurring in the BCAT Sample 3, with the photo flash going off every half hour. Today Dan received ground feedback that 'the photos are looking really good now!')

In the Lab, the CDR continued crew support of the CSLM-2 (Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures 2) experiment in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) facility, terminating the final (fourth) vacuum draw on the SPU11 (Sample Processing Unit 11) and initiating sample processing on SPU11, to be finished prior to Progress 26P undocking tonight to avoid vibration disturbances on the processing. (CSLM-2 examines the kinetics of competitive particle growth within a liquid matrix. During this process, small particles shrink by losing atoms to larger particles, causing the larger particles to grow (coarsen) within a liquid lead/tin matrix. This study defined the mechanisms and rates of coarsening that govern the manufacture with metals from turbine blades to dental amalgam fillings.)

Working in the Airlock (A/L) on more post-EVA cleanup tasks, Peggy Whitson set up and started the periodic scrubbing process on the EMUs' (Extravehicular Mobility Units) cooling water loops, by initiating its ionic and particulate matter filtration (using a 3-micron filter) on suits #3006 & #3018. The cooling loops were then reconfigured and the EMU water processing kit disassembled and stowed. (Purpose of the scrubbing, including iodination of the LCVGs (Liquid Cooling & Ventilation Garments) for biocidal maintenance, is the elimination of any biomass and particulate matter that may have accumulated in the loops.)

The CDR also terminated the regeneration of METOX (Metal Oxide) canisters #0020 & #0021 in the Airlock (A/L) bakeout oven. (METOX CO2 absorption cans, rather than LiOH (Lithium Hydroxide) filters, were used on 12/19 both in the A/L for the Campout and in the two EMUs for the spacewalk.)

Afterwards, Peggy checked out the U.S. Sound Level Meter (SLM) instrument and then used it to conduct the periodic noise level measurements program in the station interior for a 2-hr acoustic survey, including transfer of the recorded data to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer). (The acoustic level may have been somewhat impacted by the fans running in the A/L for the EMU iodination procedure. A total of 48 acoustic measurements are obtained at 13 locations in the Lab (including in the TESS {Temporary Sleep Station} with door closed), four locations in Node-1, three locations in the A/L, six locations in Node-2, 11 locations in the SM, three locations in the DC1 Docking Compartment, and 4 locations in the FGB.. The survey also includes four crew preference locations taken at their perceived loudest locations in the station. The SLM gives instantaneous noise levels and their frequency spectra, which are transferred to the MEC laptop via an RS232 cable and later downlinked with regular CHeCS (Crew Health Care Systems) data dump or via OCA.)

For tonight's operation of SAMS (Space Acceleration Measurement System), Tani configured the ER1 (EXPRESS Rack 1) by connecting its MTL (Moderate Temperature Loop) cooling jumper QDs (quick disconnects) to the nearby LAB1O2 UIP (Utility Interface Panel, 'Z-panel'). Later, Dan will also verify proper functioning of the SAMS laptop in ER4. (Background: Progress 26P undocking tonight will be monitored with three instrumentation systems measuring vibrational dynamics of ISS structural elements during the undocking: SDMS (Structural Dynamic Measurement System), SAMS, and MAMS (Microgravity Acceleration Measurement System). The ground-controlled SDMS can store only 10 minutes of data and has no permanent memory. Thus, the goal is to acquire at least 2 min of data prior to undocking and 3 min after, with data downlink within 24 hours after the data collection. MAMS and SAMS should be up and running 2 hours before the undocking to ensure data collection during the actual event.)

Returning to the ITCS (Internal Thermal Control System) panels later today, the FE-2 will demate and take down the ITCS LTL (Internal Thermal Control System/Low Temperature Loop) jumper at the CDRA-supporting LAB1D6 rack, after the CDRA (Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly) failed yesterday due to a warm slug of water resulting from an unexpected transition of LTL to single LT. (Since CO2 levels during METOX remained acceptable level, CDRA did not have to be reactivated.)

Unstowing the two HRDs (High Rate Dosimeters) from the Passive Dosimetry Kit, Dan Tani replaced their batteries with fresh ones, as is done once a year to ensure the units are ready to be used in a contingency situation. (Purpose of the hand-held HRDs is to measure & record high rate radiation data, i.e., dose (in Gy) and dose rate (in Gy/hr or cGy/hr), and relay to MCC-H during a contingency event. The instruments measure absorbed dose, also known as total ionizing dose (TID), a measure of the energy deposited in a medium by ionizing radiation. Since it is equal to the energy deposited per unit mass of medium, it the unit Joule/kg, which is given the special name 'gray' (Gy).)

The FE-2 also filled out the regular FFQ (Food Frequency Questionnaire), his 7th, on the MEC. (By means of these FFQs, U.S. astronauts keep a personalized log of their nutritional intake over time on special MEC software. Recorded are the amounts consumed during the past week of such food items as beverages, cereals, grains, eggs, breads, snacks, sweets, fruit, beans, soup, vegetables, dairy, fish, meat, chicken, sauces & spreads, and vitamins. At TsUP/Moscow, food specialists are currently preparing the Russian food 'menu' for delivery by Progress M-63/28P next February. 28P will carry 'bonus food' for Peggy and Yuri, plus about 15 kg of fresh food items (apples, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, garlic) in two containers.)

CDR Whitson unstowed and assembled the HRF (Human Research Facility) ultrasound hardware for Day 1 of the Braslet experiment (SDTO/Station Development Test Objective). (The SDTO-17011 'Validation of On-Orbit Methodology for the Assessment of Cardiac Function and Changes in the Circulating Volume Using Ultrasound and Braslet-M Occlusion Cuffs (Braslet)' is a collaborative effort between NASA and the Russian FSA (Federal Space Agency), with the goal to establish a valid ultrasound methodology for assessing a number of aspects of central and peripheral hemodynamics and cardiovascular function, specifically in rapid changes in intravascular circulating volume. Braslet uses Braslet-M occlusion cuffs, i.e., the Russian-made operational countermeasure already pre-calibrated and available onboard for each ISS crewmember. Braslet employs multiple modes of ultrasound imaging and measurements, in combination with short-term application of Braslet-M occlusive cuffs and cardiopulmonary maneuvers (Valsalva, Mueller) to demonstrate and to evaluate the degree of changes in the circulating volume on orbit. This will be accomplished by performing echocardiographic examinations in multiple modes (including Tissue Doppler mode), ultrasound measurements of lower extremity venous and arterial vascular responses to Braslet-M device under nominal conditions and also during cardiopulmonary Mueller and Valsalva maneuvers. Identical measurements will be repeated without Braslet-M, with Braslet-M applied, and immediately after releasing the occlusion device.)

Yuri and Peggy completed preparations for Progress M-61/26P undocking tonight on its own free-flyer mission (~10:59pm). (The FE-1 and CDR finished trash loading and reported completion to the ground for the final Go from TsUP/Moscow, followed by cargo ship activation, tearing down the ventilation air duct, removing the threaded BZV QD (quick disconnect) screw clamps screw clamps of the SSVP docking & internal transfer system, and closing hatches between 26P and the transfer tunnel (PrK) to the DC1 after taking video of the mating surfaces/seals. They then conducted the one-hour vestibule leak check and downlinked the video imagery of the SM/Progress hatch interface. Russian MCS/thrusters were temporarily inhibited during the clamp removal due to loads constraints.)

Before sleeptime tonight, Dan will verify closure of the protective Lab science window shutter and power down the onboard amateur/ham radio equipment to prevent RF interference with the departing Progress.

Using the SKDS CMS (Pressure Control & Atmosphere Monitoring System/Countermeasure System), Malenchenko took readings of potentially harmful contaminants in the SM. The hardware was then returned to initial stowage. (The CMS uses preprogrammed microchips to measure Formaldehyde (H2CO, methanal), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Ammonia (NH3), taking one measurement per microchip.)

With Progress 26P's oxygen (O2) stores depleted yesterday, Yuri today supported the ground's reactivation of the Elektron O2 generator at 32 amps by monitoring the external temperature of its secondary purification unit (BD) for the first 10 minutes of operations to ensure that there was no overheating. (During nominal operations a gas analyzer is utilized to detect hydrogen (H2) in the O2 line (which could cause overheating) but is not included in the control algorithm until 10 minutes after Elektron startup.)

Malenchenko performed the routine servicing of the SOZh system (Environment Control & Life Support System, ECLSS) in the SM. (Regular daily SOZh maintenance consists among else of replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers.)

Later, Yuri also will conduct the daily IMS (Inventory Management System) maintenance, updating/editing its standard 'delta file' including stowage locations, for the regular weekly automated export/import to its three databases on the ground (Houston, Moscow, Baikonur).

At ~3:20am EST, Yuri linked up with TsUP stowage specialists via S-band to conduct the weekly IMS tagup, discussing stowage issues and equipment locations. (Issues discussed included number of PCMCIA memory cards used for KUBIK experiment data, number of discarded urine transfer hoses & adapters, and confirmation that a large number of trashed items have been stowed in Progress M-61/26P which are not yet showing in the IMS log.)

At ~3:40pm, the crew is scheduled for their conducted their seventh weekly tagup with the Lead Flight Director at JSC/MCC-H via S-band/audio. (S/G-2 (Space-to-Ground 2) phone patch via SSC-10 (Station Support Computer 10)).

The CDR and FE-2 each were scheduled for their weekly PFC (Private Family Conference) via S-band/audio and Ku-band/MS-NetMeeting application (which displays the uplinked ground video on the SSC-9 laptop), Dan at ~8:05am, Peggy at ~2:45pm.

The crewmembers performed their regular 2.5-hr physical workout program (about half of which is used for setup & post-exercise personal hygiene) on the TVIS treadmill (CDR, FE-1, FE-2), RED (CDR, FE-2) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).

Afterwards, the FE-2 will transfer the exercise data file to the MEC laptop for downlink, including the daily wristband HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) data of the workouts on RED, followed by their erasure on the HRM storage medium (done six times a week).

Progress Launch Preps: At Baikonur, Kazakhstan, preparations continue for the launch of the Progress M-62/27P cargo vehicle on 12/23 (2:12am EST). At 4:00am Moscow time (8:00pm EST last night), the Soyuz-U launch vehicle was rolled out from the Integration Building to the launch pad and installed on the pad. L-2 days activities have been started.

CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC - also known as noctilucent clouds). Southern spring is the season for relatively uncommon polar mesospheric clouds to form very high over Antarctica. PMC are being studied as part of the International Polar Year (IPY) investigation of climate change in high latitudes. PMC form in the stratosphere and higher, i.e. well above the lowest layer of the atmosphere (troposphere, or weather layer, characterized by clouds, and an orange tinge produced by brushfire smoke, smog, etc.). The AIM satellite (Aeronomy of Ice in the Atmosphere) has just been launched to investigate how PMC form and why they are apparently becoming thicker and brighter. ISS/CEO imagery will complement images from AIM and from the ground. The collaborating IPY scientist is excited to receive any images ISS may acquire. Collaborating Swedish scientists have arrived at a base in Antarctica (73S 13 W) for PMC observation.)

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