STS-73 Day 9 Highlights
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- On Saturday, October 28, 1995, 8 a.m. CDT, STS-73 MCC Status Report # 17
- The Space Shuttle Columbia continues to perform well on its 18th
mission, allowing crew members and flight controllers time to
concentrate on the United States Microgravity Payload experiments.
This morning, Columbia passed the midway mark of its marathon mission.
- Flight controllers in Houston had another quiet shift last night with
orbiter systems functioning normally. This gave the team plenty of
time to fine tune the timeline for the Red Team's ninth day in
space. Columbia's smooth operation also is allowing orbiter crew
members to assist in the science operations in the Spacelab module.
- On Saturday, October 28, 1995, 6 a.m. CDT, STS-73 Payload Status Report # 14
reports: (7/21:07 MET)
- Mission Specialist Cady Coleman and Payload Specialist Fred Leslie
took turns conducting investigations within the European Space
Agency's versatile Glovebox enclosure as the second United States
Microgravity Laboratory-2 mission reached its half-way point.
- Leslie worked with two Glovebox investigations sponsored by NASA's
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. First, he photographed
several containers holding different concentrations of microscopic
plastic spheres suspended in liquid for the Colloidal Disorder- Order
Transition experiment. Dr. Paul Chaikin of Princeton University hopes
to determine at which concentration the collisions between the spheres
change the mixture from a disordered fluid state, with the spheres
moving haphazardly, to an ordered crystalline state in which they are
arranged in a symmetrical way.
- "We are studying the most fundamental transition between liquid and
solid states, to find what is really important in the formation of
solids and crystals," said Chaikin. The behavior of the spheres in
space, essentially free from the disruption of gravity, is a basic
model for the way atoms interact with one another. All physical
properties of matter such as weight, hardness and color are determined
by the kind of atoms present and how they interact.
- Leslie's next Glovebox activity, the Interface Configuration
Experiment, studied the behavior of a fluid in microgravity as it
filled a specially shaped chamber. Glovebox Investigator Dr. Paul
Concus of the University of California at Berkeley and Co-
Investigators Dr. Robert Finn of Stanford University, and Mark
Weislogel of NASA's Lewis Research Center watched live video as
ruby-tinted fluid began flowing into three containers, each with
slightly different internal angles. The scientists were able to see
definite differences in the way the fluid adhered to chamber walls in
the various containers, and some of the behavior was different from
that predicted by the classic mathematical model.
- "This shows that we cannot rely completely on the current theory of
how surfaces form in low gravity, which is based on an equation
developed in the 1800's," said Weislogel. "We saw that physical
factors which are not included in the purely mathematical theory do
indeed play a significant role." Insights will aid design of fluid
systems for space such as those for liquid fuels.
- Coleman activated more proteins for the Glovebox Protein Crystal
Growth experiment, this time using larger drops of protein solution.
She has initiated growth of new protein samples during several recent
shifts, adjusting conditions based on the progress of previously
activated crystals. This hands-on involvement of crew members will
help Dr. Larry DeLucas of the University of Alabama at Birmingham
determine the best growth methods for various proteins during future
Shuttle and Space Station experiments.
- Mission Specialist Mike Lopez-Alegria deactivated a crystal growth
chamber for a portion of Dr. Dan Carter's Protein Crystallization for
Microgravity Apparatus experiment. This was one of eight chambers,
activated early in the flight, which contain two salt solutions rather
than actual proteins. The two solutions, with different
concentrations of salt, will gradually diffuse into one another until
the salt concentration is uniform. The crew is deactivating one
container about every two days to detect the point in time when the
diffusion is completed. Carter will use results to estimate the rate
at which solutions will diffuse during actual protein crystal growth
experiments in microgravity.
- "We know that proteins grow more slowly in space than on Earth, but
we don't know why," said protein specialist Brenda Wright of Marshall
Space Flight Center. "We've wanted to do an experiment for a long
time that would help us predict the rate at which certain crystals
will grow, so we can be more efficient with these valuable proteins
and our time in orbit. But up until now, we haven't had the room to
fly anything but actual proteins." Because Carter's apparatus holds
many times more samples in the same volume of space than traditional
crystallization facilities, room was available for the test on USML-2
. Scientists use the well-formed crystals grown in space to analyze
protein structures, a key to determining how these "building blocks of
life" function in the human body and other biological systems.
- Early this morning, Lopez-Alegria rolled the orbiter's position
about 17 degrees to put its left wing directly into the path of
flight, an attitude the Geophysical Fluid Flow Cell (GFFC) experiment
scientists believe might further reduce disturbances to its
experiment. The Shuttle will maintain that orientation until about 8
a.m. CDT. The fluid flow cell team is running solar atmosphere
simulations at a slower rotation, to determine if the special Shuttle
attitude makes a discernible difference. The facility uses a
combination of rotation, temperature and gravitational variables to
simulate fluid flows in the atmospheres of the sun and planets.
- The Suppression of Transient Acceleration by Levitation Experiment,
or STABLE, completed its final run for the mission during the Shuttle
maneuver. After the mission, a Marshall Center team will analyze
video of a small experiment inside the levitation device to see if
STABLE isolated the experiment from disturbances as the orbiter
- On Saturday, October 28, 1995, 5 p.m. CDT, STS-73 MCC Status Report # 18
- With all continuing to proceed smoothly aboard Columbia on the 72nd
Space Shuttle mission, the seven astronauts that make up this
microgravity laboratory mission have passed the mid-point of the
- A short while ago, four the crew members completed their ninth
workday in space and were relieved by the remaining three astronauts.
The crew is split into two shifts working around the clock to support
the many experiments that make up this second dedicated United States
Microgravity Laboratory mission. Ken Bowersox, Kent Rominger, Kathy
Thornton and Al Sacco turned in for the evening about 6 p.m. and are
scheduled to take over for Mike Lopez-Alegria, Cady Coleman and Fred
Leslie about three tomorrow morning.
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