STS-78 Day 14 Highlights
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- On Wednesday, July 3, 1996, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 27
- Columbia's astronauts have begun another day of life and microgravity
science following an early morning wake-up call from Mission Control.
- Four of the crew members -- Mission Specialists Rick Linnehan and
Chuck Brady, and Payload Specialists Jean-Jacques Favier and Bob
Thirsk -- are participating in the second of two integrated 72-hour
studies of sleep cycles, circadian rhythms and crew performance.
Investigators for this study, which began yesterday, will be
monitoring crew alertness and mood through a series of questionnaires
the astronauts will complete over the next 48 hours. The astronauts
also will don instrumented sleeping caps that will allow investigators
to monitor the quality of crew sleep.
- Columbia's seven astronauts also will work with a variety of
experiments investigating the effects of microgravity on the human
body. Studies of muscle strength and energy expenditure as well as
astronaut pulmonary function will continue throughout the day, while
processing of advanced semiconductor materials and alloys in the
Advanced Gradient Heating Facility proceed.
- In addition to the ongoing science activities in the Spacelab module,
the crew will take time to discuss their mission in a series of
interviews today. Shortly after 8 a.m. Central time, Favier and
Mission Commander Tom Henricks will take a call from French Prime
Minister Alain Juppe. About two hours later, at 10:10 a.m. Central
time, some of Columbia's crew will contact the Mir Space Station crew
-- Commander Yuri Onufrienko, Flight Engineer Yuri Usachev and
Cosmonaut Researcher Shannon Lucid. The two crews will discuss the
international nature of their flights and the upcoming Olympic Games
with Mr. Billy Payne, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlanta
Committee for the Olympic Games.
- In the afternoon, Henricks and Thirsk, a Canadian Space Agency
astronaut, will answer questions from students at three different
locations in Canada. That interactive educational event is scheduled
for 12:14 p.m. Central time.
- The crew awoke this morning to the tune "Wake Up Little Susie" by the
Everly Brothers. They will go to sleep at 3:49 p.m. Central time
- On Wednesday, July 3, 1996, 6:00 p.m. CDT, STS-78 MCC Status Report # 28
- Columbia's Life and Microgravity Spacelab moved into the homestretch
as the seven astronauts near completion of two weeks in orbit on what
is expected to be the longest Space Shuttle mission to date.
- The crew went to sleep just before 4 p.m. and was scheduled to be
awakened at 11:49 tonight to begin the fifteenth flight day of the
- About an hour into the sleep period, a switch on the middeck was
inadvertently bumped sounding an alarm on board. Commander Tom
Henricks reset the switch and went back to bed.
- The crew completed all of its in-flight special events Wednesday,
including a conversation with two cosmonauts and fellow astronaut
Shannon Lucid on Russia's Space Station Mir. The conversation also
included congratulatory words to both crews from Billy Payne with the
Atlanta Olympic Organizing Committee. The olympics begin July 19.
- Tomorrow the crew will continue work in the Spacelab module and also
celebrate Independence Day for the United States. On Monday the crew
celebrated Canada Day in honor of Payload Specialist Bob Thirsk and
his country's 129th birthday.
- On Wednesday, July 3, 1996, 3:00 p.m. CDT, STS-78 Payload Status Report # 14
reports: (MET 013/05:11)
- As the Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission today entered the home
stretch for Sunday's landing, crew members continue their work on
musculoskeletal experiments using the Torque Velocity Dynamometer, and
completed their work on the experiment in the Plant Growth Facility.
- Mission Specialists Dr. Richard Linnehan and Dr. Charles Brady, and
Payload Specialist Dr. Robert Thirsk performed muscle strength, power
and endurance tests conducted in the Spacelab using the Torque
Velocity Dynamometer. All three performed the tests with their left
legs. Thirsk also wore electrodes which applied precise electrical
stimuli to his leg muscles to cause involuntary muscle contractions.
The crew members have performed similar experiments on their arms and
legs throughout the flight. This study is designed in part to
determine why muscles lose strength in a microgravity environment.
- This morning, Payload Specialist Dr. Jean-Jacques Favier and Payload
Commander Susan Helms harvested the four final seedlings from what was
originally a group of 20 in the Plant Growth Facility and placed them
in a fixative to halt their growth. Four other seedlings were
harvested June 30. The remaining 12 seedlings will be allowed to grow
throughout the mission and then harvested after landing. Earlier in
the mission, the seedlings -- a mix of Loblolly pines and Douglas fir
-- were bent to a 90-degree angle to study the effect microgravity has
on the formation of reaction wood, which forms when trees on Earth
bend and then gradually straighten. Results from the study may help
the lumber and paper industries which must use extra chemical
processes to remove the inferior reaction wood from pulp and other
- Returning to the area of musculoskeletal experiments, Linnehan
and Brady exercised on a stationary bicycle-like device called the
ergometer. Exercising on the ergometer during the mission not only
helps the crew members maintain cardiovascular conditioning in the
microgravity environment, but it also helps researchers gather data to
determine the effects of microgravity on muscle activity, the ability
to control muscles, and the capacity to secrete growth hormones.
Tests conducted on the ergometer may help scientists develop measures
to reduce in-flight muscle atrophy. The ergometer also has been used
extensively in the Astronaut Lung Function Experiment, and has served
as a secure seat or base for crew members as they perform the Canal
and Otolith Integration Studies.
- The crew also continued the Astronaut Lung Function
Experiment, which measures the effects of microgravity on the
pulmonary system during rest, heavy exercise and deep breathing.
- Brady, Linnehan, Thirsk and Favier also crossed the half-way
point of the Sleep and Circadian Rhythms study's second 72-hour
period. The four crew members completed a series of performance and
mood tests displayed on a laptop computer throughout the day to assess
the quality of their sleep and their mental functions.
- Favier also put on head and torso sensors and resumed the
Torso Rotation Experiment. The investigation examines how eye, head
and body coordination changes during long stays in space. Results
could help researchers identify the causes of motion sickness during
space flight, and also help them develop countermeasures. Results
could also lead to practical ways on Earth to prevent motion sickness
in cars, boats and aircraft. The principle investigator is Dr. Douglas
Watt of McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
- In the area of microgravity materials, an experiment measuring
the speed at which a mix of pure aluminum and an aluminum-nickel alloy
must solidify to engulf rather than push away zirconia particles
concluded today in the Advanced Gradient Heating Facility. Pilot
Kevin Kregel and Mission Commander Tom Henricks later inserted the
Coupled Growth in Hypermonotectics Experiment into the high-tech
furnace. Led by Principle Investigator Dr. Barry Andrews of the
University of Alabama at Birmingham, the experiment processes aluminum
and indium samples to study the segregation of alloys as they
solidify. The study is aimed at developing ways to control the
internal structure of alloys during processing. The research may lead
to the development of new alloys for engineering, chemical and
- An experiment in the Bubble, Drop and Particle Unit that
examines heat transfer as a refrigerant is brought to the
boiling point ran overnight and through this afternoon on
board Columbia. Boiling is an efficient way to exchange
heat, and it is used in many energy conversion systems on
Earth. Areas that may benefit from the study include the
development of cooling systems for high-powered electronic
devices, such as computer chips.
- This was the second run for the investigation designed
by Dr. Johannes Straub of the Technical University in Munich,
Germany. Straub's experiment was placed in the unit one day
ahead of schedule after technical problems with a separate
cartridge Tuesday cut one half of an experiment short. The
experiment, designed by Dr. Rodolfo Monti of the University
of Naples, Italy, first injects bubbles, then water drops,
into a waxy substance is in a liquid state to study bubble
and drop behavior as the wax is solidified. However, during
the water drop phase Tuesday, investigators discovered that
the injector would not retract from its deployed position,
prompting the cartridge's removal and the rescheduling of the
one remaining Straub experiment. Within an hour and a half
of discovering the problem, engineers developed a solution in
the Spacelab mock-up at Marshall, and mission planners expect
the second half of the Monti experiment will be completed by
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