Happy 46th Birthday, Yuri Ivanovich!
Last night, Progress M-61/26P successfully undocked from the ISS at 10:59pm EST (hook opening command: 10:57pm). The separation appeared smooth with no vibrations noted. Downlinked video from the cargo vehicle showed that the docking ring surface was nominal. The first separation burn was performed at 11:03pm and a second separation burn followed at 11:09pm. The spacecraft initially moved aft of the station, then forward, overtaking the ISS on a lower (faster) orbit. 26P will remain in orbit in free flight for 3-4 weeks, continuing to phase out in front of the ISS (about 40 km per orbit) as part of a Russian Earth observation experiment.
After the undocking, FE-1 Yuri Malenchenko manually closed the PEV (Pressure Equalization Valve) between the DC1 and its docking port vestibule.
Before breakfast, FE-2 Dan Tani and CDR Peggy Whitson (who now has joined in this activity) completed their daily access of the SLEEP experiment (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight) software for data logging and filling in questionnaire entries in the experiment's laptop session file on the HRF-1 laptop for 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.)
Also before breakfast, Dr. Whitson completed the last day (FD 60) of her 3rd session with the NASA/JSC experiment NUTRITION w/Repository. Today she conducted the 24-hour urine collections starting with the first void early in the morning and continuing through tomorrow morning. The samples were stored in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS) and the sampling kit was then stowed away. (The current NUTRITION project is the most comprehensive in-flight study done by NASA to date of human physiologic changes during long-duration space flight. It includes measures of bone metabolism, oxidative damage, nutritional assessments, and hormonal changes, expanding the previous Clinical Nutritional Assessment profile (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.)
The crew performed the regular weekly three-hour task of thorough station cleaning. ("Uborka", normally done on Saturdays, includes removal of food waste products, cleaning of compartments with vacuum cleaner, damp cleaning of the Service Module (SM) dining table, other frequently touched surfaces and surfaces where trash is collected, as well as the FE's sleep station with a standard cleaning solution; also, fan screens and grilles are cleaned to avoid temperature rises. Special cleaning is also done every 90 days on the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) bacteria filters in the Lab.)
The CDR conducted her first self-scanning session for the Braslet experiment (SDTO/Station Development Test Objective), leading off with a video review and followed by the actual ultrasound scanning activity on herself (for which she had to abstain from caffeine 12 hrs prior to the scan session, heavy meals 4 hrs before and any food at all 2 hrs prior to the scan, plus no exercise 2 hours before and no liquids 30 mins before). (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.)
For FE-2 Tani, it was time again for 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.)
In the Lab, Peggy continued her support of the CSLM-2 (Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures 2) experiment in the MSG (Microgravity Science Glovebox) facility, terminating SPU-11 (Sample Processing Unit #11) processing, transferring its data to the MLC (MSG Laptop Computer) and verifying them, then removing SPU-11, installing a new SPU (#10), and finally turning the payload off. Later, the MSG was also powered off. (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 briefly on the EXPRESS Rack 1 (ER1) laptop computer, Whitson modify its 'crash recovery' parameter, changing the location of the memory dump analysis file to make downlinking more efficient.
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.)
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-2), TVIS treadmill (FE-1), RED resistive exercise device (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).
At ~3:20am EST, Yuri Malenchenko, born today 46 years ago in the Ukraine, participated in a Telebridge radio hook-up with friends and family at an event in the Ukrainian city of Kiev via RGS (Russian Groundsites).
The FE-1 and FE-2 each were scheduled for a 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), Yuri at ~5:305am, Dan at ~3:05pm.
From his voluntary task list, Yuri conducted another session of the Russian "Uragan" (hurricane) earth-imaging program, using the Nikon D2X digital camera with 800 mm focal length lenses to take pictures of catastrophic events for subsequent downlink via BSR-TM. (Uplinked target zones for today were slopes and ravine terrain to the south of Voronezh, the Alps, the Allaline and other glaciers near arc-shaped water reservoir dams, Poland's Vistula river showing 20-km long contamination spreading on 12/17 towards the Baltic Sea, and the Huascaran volcano in Peru.)
Electron Activation Update: Yesterday, when Yuri assisted the ground in activation the Elektron oxygen generator in the standard 32 amp mode, the system came on in 11 amps mode. A recently (11/27) installed electronic interference filter (to prevent RFI with the ATV/Automated Transfer Vehicle) felt hot to Yuri's touch, who, on ground advice, turned off the Elektron, removed the filter and reconnected the cables. The electrolysis machine was then successfully reactivated in 32 amp mode and is now operating nominally at 24 amps.
Progress Launch Preps: At Baikonur, Kazakhstan, final preparations continue for the launch of the Progress M-62/27P cargo vehicle tomorrow morning at 2:12am EST.
Weekly Science Update (Expedition Sixteen -- Week 9)
ALTCRISS (Alteino Long Term monitoring of Cosmic Rays on the ISS): In progress.
BCAT (Binary Colloidal Alloy Test): There will be a reboost on 12/29 ands thruster firings on 12/30, both of which could significantly impact the quality of BCAT science. The ground team feels that it's not likely that they will get two runs before the Shuttle docking, so they are going to remix sample 3 on 12/31 after the thruster firings and run sample 3 for ~14 days.
CCISS (Cardiovascular & Cerebrovascular Control on Return from ISS): Reserve.
CFE (Capillary Flow Experiment): Reserve.
CSI-2/CGBA (CGBA Science Insert #2/Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus): In progress.
CGBA-2 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus 2): Complete.
CSLM-2 (Coarsening in Solid-Liquid Mixtures 2): CSLM-2 SPU-11 has completed vacuum vent cycles 1 through 4. SPU-11 (10 hr heat soak) started processing on 12/21 at ~11:00am EST.
EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students): Complete.
EPO (Educational Payload Operations): Reserve.
ETD (Eye Tracking Device): In progress.
Integrated Immune: In progress.
KUBIK-FM1/ KUBIK-FM2 Centrifuge/Incubators: FE-1 Malenchenko has retrieved the telemetry data of the two KUBIK devices. The data is related to the 16S/15S Soyuz mission Biology Program and has been downlinked to ground.
LOCAD-PTS (Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System): Complete.
MISSE (Materials ISS Experiment): Ongoing.
MTR-2 (Russian radiation measurements): Passive dosimeters measurements in DC1 'Pirs'.
MULTIGEN-1: MULTIGEN-1 samples will be downloaded on STS-122 (1E).
MSG-SAME (Microgravity Science Glovebox): Complete.
NOA-2 (Nitric Oxide Analyzer): Planned.
NUTRITION/REPOSITORY: In progress..
PMDIS (Perceptual Motor Deficits in Space): Complete.
SAMS/MAMS (Space & Microgravity Acceleration Measurement Systems): Ongoing.
SLEEP (Sleep-Wake Actigraphy & Light Exposure during Spaceflight): Peggy and Dan's next Sleep Actiwatch Download/Initialization session will be placed on the task list from 12/26/07-1/2/08. The Actiwatches will stop taking data on 1/3/08.
SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellite): In progress. To be conducted tomorrow (12/2).
Swab (Characterization of Microorganisms & Allergens in Spacecraft): In progress.
TRAC (Test of Reaction & Adaptation Capabilities): Planned.
CEO (Crew Earth Observation): On-going.
CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Polar Mesospheric Clouds over Antarctica (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.)