STS-73 Day 4 Highlights
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- On Monday, October 23, 1995, 9:30 a.m. CDT, STS-73 MCC Status Report # 07
- The Red Team crew -- Commander Ken Bowersox, Pilot Kent Rominger,
Payload Commander Kathy Thornton and Payload Specialist Al Sacco --
began a 12-hour shift at 6:38 a.m. CDT. Their Blue Team crewmates
began eight hours of sleep at 8:53 a.m. CDT.
- Bowersox and Rominger took part in the third test thus of a new
shuttle system that allows the transmission of television from Mission
Control to Columbia. The crew discussed the progress of the flight
with Capcom Tom Jones and Flight Director Rob Kelso in Mission
Control. Bowersox reported that he has been impressed by Columbia's
performance so far and complemented workers at the Kennedy Space
Center that prepared the shuttle for flight. The test was the first to
involve two-way television -- simultaneous transmissions to and from
Columbia -- and was highly successful.
- On Monday, October 23, 1995 at 6 a.m. CDT, STS-73 Payload Status Report # 04
reports: (2/21:07 MET)
- Research in microgravity continues around the clock as crew members
of the second United States Microgravity Laboratory (USML- 2) onboard
the Shuttle Columbia work in dual 12-hour shifts. The red and blue
Spacelab teams devoted the majority of the time on their last shifts
to the Drop Physics Module, the Surface Tension Driven Convection
Experiment and Glovebox Protein Crystal Growth operations.
- Drop Physics Module Project Scientist Arvid Croonquist and his
science team watched downlink video of the first liquid drop
deployment in their facility during an initial test run on Sunday.
Payload Commander Kathy Thornton deployed the 3/4-inch (4 cubic
centimeter) drop of water, then released it, using precisely
controlled sound waves to manipulate the drop's movements. Thornton
reported that the drop's performance was close to expectations, its
rotation visible by following the movement of tiny plastic particles
suspended in the water drops as reference points.
- Thornton spent a good portion of her shift deploying and
manipulating different-sized drops in the facility. Mission
Specialist Cady Coleman also devoted several hours last night to
familiarizing herself with the operation of the Drop Physics Module.
These preliminary runs give crew members valuable practice injecting,
controlling and retrieving liquid drops in the unique environment of
weightlessness. The runs also allow ground controllers to fine-tune
procedures in preparation for upcoming science investigations.
Insights gained into basic fluid physics and the properties of liquid
surfaces will benefit a variety of industries, from pharmacology to
- Payload Specialist Al Sacco and Coleman finished the mission's
initial round of protein crystal growth activations in the Glovebox
facility. The experiment, provided by the Center for Macromolecular
Crystallography in Birmingham, Ala., will help improve protein crystal
growth procedures for future Shuttle missions and on the International
Space Station. Among the proteins Sacco activated was feline
calcivirus, similar to a virus that causes digestive problems in
humans. He also set up initial conditions for growth of a collagen
binding domain protein, important in the study of arthritis and joint
disease. One of the proteins Coleman activated last night was duck
delta crystallin. Derived from the eye of a duck, it is much like a
protein that causes a rare but deadly inherited disease in humans.
- Thornton and Payload Specialist Fred Leslie continued tests in the
Surface Tension Driven Convection Experiment, an investigation which
could eventually lead to better, stronger high-tech crystals, metals,
alloys and ceramics by modeling the transition from steady
thermocapillary fluid flows to oscillatory (or varying) flows.
Unsteady flows in materials processing such as crystal growth could
reduce the quality of the final product. "Once we understand when and
how oscillations occur, we should eventually be able to design
processes to control them," said Co- Investigator Dr. Yasuhiro
Kamotani of Case Western Reserve University.
- In this series of convection tests, crew members drew down the
volume of silicone oil in the experiment chamber to create a concave
surface. As a laser gradually heated the surface, team members were
able to identify the transition point where oscillations began to
occur in each run. "We've never seen this kind of transition before,
because we have no way to create a large curved liquid surface on the
ground," said Lewis Research Center Project Scientist Alex Pline.
- Crew members initiated another Lewis Research Center investigation,
the Colloidal Disorder-Order Transition experiment. This Glovebox
study researches what happens at the boundaries between solid and
liquid states during crystallization of a colloid. Colloids are
suspensions of finely divided solids or liquids in gaseous or liquid
fields. For instance, paint, ink and milk are colloids found in
everyday life. Investigators will use results to model the complex
interactions of atoms -- the basic building blocks for everything in
- Thornton worked Sunday with the Geophysical Fluid Flow Cell
Experiment, which models fluid flows on Earth, planets and stars.
Thornton set up different scenarios, adjusting fluid temperature,
speed of sphere rotation, and electrical charges (which simulate
gravity) to mimic various environments. Investigators hope to one day
use information gleaned from experiments such as this to aid in
forecasting ocean flows and weather patterns. The science team is
currently working a problem relaying scenario temperature parameters
to the experiment hardware, but Principal Investigator Dr. John Hart
says they are getting good data.
- The cadmium zinc telluride crystal is just over a third of the way
through its growth in the Crystal Growth Furnace. The predecessor
experiment on USML-1 yielded a crystal of the infrared-detecting
semiconductor a thousand times more perfect than any cultivated on
Earth. Principal Investigator Dr. David Larson hopes to demonstrate
that equivalent quality can be reproduced with the USML-2 crystal.
- The Astroculture team has noticed new growth on the 10 small potato
tubers in their facility onboard Columbia. The potatoes will be
analyzed post-mission to determine how microgravity affected starch
accumulation. In addition, this flight of Astroculture is the last in
a series to evaluate each of the critical subsystems needed for the
construction of a reliable plant growth unit. After it is flight
qualified, the unit will be available for sale or lease to commercial
enterprises. Plants may provide food, water and oxygen for crews on
long-duration space flights.
- Science activities scheduled for the next 12 hours include more Drop
Physics Module and Surface Tension Driven Convection Experiment
- On Monday, October 23, 1995, 6:30 p.m. CDT, STS-73 MCC Status Report # 08
- Circling the Earth at over 17,000 miles an hour and at an altitude
of approximately 170 statute miles, Columbia is flying in the gravity
gradient attitude, tail to Earth in its most stable and vibration-free
condition to facilitate the delicate microgravity experiments being
conducted. The astronaut crew, divided into Red and Blue teams, works
shifts for around-the-clock science in 14 major areas of
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