Merry Christmas and Great Holidays to everyone!
Progress M-62/27P is continuing its 3-day flight to the ISS for docking Wednesday morning (12/26) at ~3:25am EST at the DC1 nadir port. All onboard tests (TV, KURS, TORU), performed today during RGS (Russian ground site) passes, were without issues.
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.)
FE-1 performed troubleshooting on one (A1) of the two redundant BSV-M (Frequency & Time Synchronization System, i.e., Master Clock) units in the Service Module (SM). (After a software update on the Russian BSPN payload server on 11/8, ground analysis of the BSPN log file on 11/12 discovered a failure of channel 2 of the BSPN CAN interface. Since BSV-M A1 is needed for nominal operation with the payload server, Malenchenko today switched connections of CAN channel 1 to BSV-M A2 before a new BSV-MA1 unit is delivered next February on Progress 28P.)
Later, Malenchenko performed the periodic communication check and time synchronization between the BSPN payload server and the ISS 'Wiener' power laptop, using the RSC-E 'PingMaster' program, used for network checkouts.
Yuri also serviced the Russian BMP (Harmful Impurities Removal System), starting the "bake-out" cycle to vacuum on absorbent bed #1 of the regenerable dual-channel filtration system. The regen process will be terminated before sleeptime, at ~4:15pm EST. Regeneration of bed #2 follows tomorrow. (Regeneration of each of the two cartridges takes about 12 hours and is conducted only during crew awake periods.)
CDR Whitson conducted the third and final session of the LOCAD-PTS (Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-Portable Test System)/Phase 2 operations, sampling four of the sites that were identified in the CHeCS SSK (Crew Health Care Systems/Surface Sampler Kit) procedure also scheduled for today. (The goal is to compare LOCAD results with the SSK colony growth results. 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.)
During Peggy's LOCAD activities, FE-2 Tani collected SSK microbiological surface samples at specific locations near air diffusers and later also sampled the cabin atmosphere by collecting air samples with the MAS (Microbial Air Sampler) kit at mid-module. (Bacterial and fungal air samples are usually taken at two locations in the module being checked. The colony growth on the MAS sampling slides is analyzed after five days of incubation in four Petri dishes. For onboard visual analysis of media slides from SSK (Surface Sampling Kit), the crew has a procedure for visual inspection of samples for bacterial and fungal colony growths after appropriate incubation periods.)
Whitson and Malenchenko each performed the CHeCS CMO (Crew Medical Officer) on-board training drill, a (generally) monthly 30-min. video & audio refresher course, taken individually, to hone the CMO's acuity in emergency medical operations. (The proficiency drill focuses on re-familiarization with skills and techniques required in procedures related to medical issues arising on board and concludes with a self-assessment questionnaire. The HMS (Health Maintenance Systems) hardware, which includes ACLS (Advanced Cardio Life Support) equipment, may be used in contingency situations where crew life is at risk. To maintain proficiency, crewmembers spend one hour per month reviewing HMS and ACLS equipment and procedures via the HMS CBT (computer-based training) and the ACLS CBT.)
Yuri and Peggy also conducted a one-hour refresher teleconference on the upcoming Progress 27P docking using the TORU manual backup control system in the event of a failure of the automated KURS system.
Dan Tani 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.)
Working on the SM's SOZh (Environment Control & Life Support System) plumbing system, the FE-1 removed & replaced the life-expired gas-liquid mixture filter (FGS) in the powered-down condensate water processor (SRVK-2M), discarding the old unit.
Starting a new round of periodic preventive maintenance of RS (Russian Segment) ventilation systems, the FE-2 worked in the FGB (Funktsionalnyi-Grusovoi Blok) to clean the vent screens of specific interior closeout panels (116, 231, 316 & 431), then moved on to do the detachable VT7 fan screens 1, 2 & 3 of the three SOTR (Thermal Control System) gas-liquid heat exchangers (GZhT4) and finished by cleaning the TsV1 fan grille.
FE-1 Malenchenko unstowed and set up the electric equipment for the upcoming operation of the new Russian/Japanese (JAXA) experiment 3DPC-J (3D Photon Crystals), with its main unit to be delivered on 27P. The experiment is scheduled for 12/26. (3DPC hardware was removed by Valery Tokarev on 3/23/06 as part of closing out JAXA's 3D-PCGF Growth Facility and was inadvertently returned to Earth. 3DPC studies the production of 3D photonic crystals, from UV LEDs, through self-organization and ordering of colloid nanoparticles in an electrolyte solution with subsequent fixation in an elastic gel matrix.)
Yuri also configured the onboard Russian TV system with its conversion to Ku-band in support of an extended (10:00am-1:00pm) ground-controlled multicast downlink operation in digital packets to MCC-H and then on to TsUP-Moscow via the COL-CC (Columbus Control Center) in Oberpfaffenhofen, as a test for the Progress 27P docking on 12/26 morning.
The CDR relocated the TEPC (Tissue Equivalent Proportional Counter), the primary radiation measurement tool in the ISS, to Node-2. (Peggy also swapped out the power/data cable and wrapped the new cable with a layer of Kapton tape, to prevent the creation of debris if the cable's mesh sheathing starts to degrade, as seen on the current cable.)
With the Vozdukh CO2 removal system running in automated mode, the FE-1 performed the periodic (monthly) functional closure test of its spare emergency vacuum valves (AVK), in the spare parts kit. Afterwards, Malenchenko switched the Vozdukh back to manual mode 5 via the on-board computer system. (The AVKs are critical because they close the Vozdukh's vacuum access lines in the event of a malfunction in the regular vacuum valves (BVK) or a depressurization in the Vozdukh valve panel (BOA). Access to vacuum is required to vent CO2 during the regeneration of the absorbent cartridges (PP). During nominal operation, the AVK valves remain open.)
CDR Whitson ran the periodic check of active U.S. payloads, i.e., cleaning the ANITA (Analyzing Interferometer for Ambient Air) inlet plus inspecting and filter cleaning of the CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus 5) incubator payload. (The CGBA incubator is controlled from the ground, with automatic video downlinked to Earth. ANITA continues to collect data every six seconds and downlinks the data daily to the ground team. ANITA monitors low levels of potential gaseous contaminants in the ISS cabin atmosphere with a capability of simultaneously monitoring 32 gaseous contaminants. The experiment is testing the accuracy and reliability of this technology as a potential next-generation atmosphere trace-gas monitoring system for ISS and future spacecraft. This is a cooperative investigation with ESA.)
Peggy conducted a maintenance inspection on the CEVIS (Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolation) and took video imagery of damaged isolators for ground inspection.
The FE-2 configured the video equipment in the SM for filming Peggy's and his own subsequent workout on the RED resistive exerciser, for biomechanical assessment of the hardware status by ground engineers. (The footage from the two sessions was then to be transferred from camcorder to VTR (Video Tape Recorder) for subsequent downlink to the ground when Ku-band is available.)
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), TVIS treadmill with vibration isolation (FE-1, FE-2), RED resistive exercise device (CDR, FE-2) and VELO bike with bungee cord load trainer (FE-1).
Afterwards, Dan Tani copied the exercise data file to the MEC (Medical Equipment Computer) 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).
Peggy 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 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.)
Working from his 'time permitting' discretionary task list, the FE-1 later handled the daily IMS 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 ~3:50pm EST, Dan Tani is 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).
CEO photo targets uplinked for today again 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.)