Ahead: Week 10 of Increment 16.
With the usual dependability, Progress M-62/27P launched nominally this morning at Baikonur at 2:12am EST. Orbit insertion and 3rd stage separation were nominal at ~2:21:30am. Critical antennae and solar array deployments took place without issue. Docking is scheduled on Wednesday, 12/26 (~3:25am EST). Congrats, Baikonur!
Before breakfast, FE-2 Dan Tani and CDR Peggy Whitson 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 crewmembers' sleep/wake patterns and light exposure, Dan and Peggy wear 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.)
Upon wakeup, Dr. Whitson also performed the last sampling of her 3rd session with the NASA/JSC experiment NUTRITION w/Repository, collecting a final urine sample for storage in the MELFI (Minus-Eighty Laboratory Freezer for ISS). The sampling kit was then stowed away. Peggy's next NUTRITION w/Repository activity will be her FD120 (Flight Day 120) session. (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.)
Today Dan Tani was the subject for the Braslet experiment (SDTO/Station Development Test Objective), holding still for his second ultrasound scanning session by Peggy as operator (for which Dan 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.)
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.)
FE-1 Malenchenko conducted regular service on the Vozdukh CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) removal system, first switching it via on-board computer system to automatic control mode and later back to manual mode 5.
Afterwards, Yuri Malenchenko completed the daily routine maintenance of the Service Module (SM)'s SOZh environment control & life support system, with the regular replacements in its toilet system (ASU), plus the periodic checkout/verification of IP-1 airflow sensors in the various Russian Segment hatchways, including the SM-to-DC1 (22P) tunnel, and the FGB-to-Node and FGB-to-Soyuz passageways. (Regular daily SOZh maintenance includes checking the ASU toilet facilities, replacement of the KTO & KBO solid waste containers and replacement of EDV-SV waste water and EDV-U urine containers. Weekly SOZh reports (on Sundays) to TsUP/Moscow deal with number & dates of water and urine containers, counter readings of water consumption & urine collection, and total operating time of the POTOK air filtration system.)
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 CEVIS cycle ergometer (CDR, FE-2), TVIS treadmill with vibration isolation (FE-1), RED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).
The FE-2, who is mourning the loss of his mother, was scheduled for two PFCs (Private Family Conferences) via S-band/audio and Ku-band/MS-NetMeeting application (which displays the uplinked ground video on the SSC-9 laptop), one at ~10:45am EST and the other at ~5:30pm.
Working off his 'time permitting' discretionary task list, Yuri conducted his fourth run of the Russian DZZ-2 "Diatomeya" ocean observations program, using the NIKON-F5 still camera with 80-200 mm Nikkor zoom lens to record high production zones and associated oceanic phenomena (cloud pattern, hydrodynamics) in the target areas of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. (Uplinked target zones were the coastal area of Brazil, Gibraltar and the northern waters of Mediterranean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean, and coral islands and atolls of Oceania and the California Bay in the Pacific Ocean.)
A second job item on the FE-1's discretionary list for today was another KPT-3 session to make observations and take aerial KPT-3 photography of environmental conditions for Russia's Environmental Safety Agency (ECON) using the Nikon D1X digital camera with SIGMA 300-800mm telephoto lens. (Targets today were contamination areas in the Vistula River in Poland and in the Pacific Ocean. KPT-3 photography has been a frequent earth observing experiment for ECON.)
CEO photo targets uplinked for today were Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMC - also known as noctilucent clouds) over selected ground sites (12 minutes for each). (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.)