Image above: Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi services the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility/Marangoni Surface Core hardware in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
Science and preparations for the arrivals of space shuttle Endeavour and a Russian cargo craft in February were the focus of the Expedition 22 crew’s activities Tuesday aboard the International Space Station.
After the crew’s daily planning conference with teams in the U.S., Russia, Germany and Japan, Commander Jeff Williams began his workday performing his fourth session with an experiment that studies changes in the astronauts’ aerobic capacity during long-duration spaceflight. NASA is interested in tracking these changes because a reduction in maximum oxygen uptake directly impacts a crew member’s ability to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks or emergency operations.
Working in the Japanese Kibo module, Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi set up equipment in the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility for a study of the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension.
Flight Engineers Maxim Suraev and Oleg Kotov checked out the Kurs automated docking system, which will come into play when the ISS Progress 36 cargo craft docks with the Zvezda service module on the evening of February 4. The two cosmonauts also conducted a test of TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The crew can use TORU to monitor the docking of a Progress spacecraft with the station or take control of the process if difficulties arise.
Suraev also spent some time with a Russian study of plant growth in space as he photographed the experiment and downlinked the photos for researchers back on Earth. Meanwhile, Kotov prepared a vacuum chamber and installed software for the Plasma Crystal-3 Plus experiment, which studies the behavior of electrically-charged dust particles in a space environment.
After a break for lunch, Williams and Noguchi joined Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer for a timeline review of the STS-130 space shuttle mission, which is targeted to launch Feb 7. With the assistance of Expedition 22, the crew of Endeavour will conduct three spacewalks to install and outfit the Italian-built Tranquility node and the seven-windowed Cupola.
Afterwards, Creamer began reconfiguring the Water Delivery System to supply the Oxygen Generation System instead of the Potable Water Dispenser.
Last week the station crew received personal access to the Internet and the World Wide Web for the first time. Williams, Noguchi and Creamer took some time Sunday to record their thoughts on this milestone and talk about how they will use this access to inform the public about their activities. Also, Jeff Williams responded to some questions he received on YouTube concerning the station’s orientation, life in space and the recent butterfly experiment.