STS-94 Day 3 Highlights
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- On Thursday, July 3, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 4
- Experiments and activities associated with the Microgravity Science
Laboratory payload being carried aboard Columbia are in full swing as
the STS-94 crew continue its around-the-clock science investigations.
- Commander Jim Halsell and Pilot Susan Still along with Mission
Specialist Don Thomas and Payload Specialist Greg Linteris, woke up
just before midnight to begin their third day of work in space as the
missions Red Team.
- Activities so far on Flight Day 3 have included Halsell conducting
video documentation of some of the MSL experiments and spent some time
using the Portable In-Flight Landing Operations Trainer (PILOT)
system. PILOT consists of a laptop computer and joystick system that
allow the commander and pilot to practice approaches and landings to
Kennedy Space Center to maintain proficiency during long spaceflights.
Thomas spent the first part of his day working with the glovebox unit
and the Internal Flows in a Free Drop experiment. Linteris has been
working with the Combustion Module and the Laminar Soot Process
- The Red Team's afternoon activities will include work with the
Expediting the Processing to the Space Station (EXPRESS) rack
facility. The EXPRESS unit is designed for quick and easy
installation of experiment and facility hardware on orbit and has the
same structural and resource connections that racks on the
International Space Station will have. An evaluation of transfer
capabilities will be performed by Still and Thomas as they transfer
the unit from the Shuttle's middeck area to the Spacelab module.
- The Blue Team astronauts, Payload Commander Janice Voss, Mission
Specialist Mike Gerhnardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch are
scheduled to be awakened just after 10 this morning. After a brief
handover with their Red Team co-workers, Voss, Gernhardt and Crouch
will take over science operations in the Spacelab.
- On Thursday, July 3, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 04
- Overnight, the crew of the Microgravity Science Laboratory aboard
Space Shuttle Columbia activated the final experiment facility and
began additional experiments, among the more than 30 investigations to
be conducted during the 16-day mission.
- Wednesday evening, Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss activated the
Droplet Combustion Apparatus -- an enclosed chamber that will support
an experiment studying the combustion of fuel droplets. She performed
a full check out of the experiment's hardware and set up a VCR and
camcorder that will record and bring video of the experiment to the
ground-based research team.
- By studying droplet combustion in the near-weightlessness
environment of Earth orbit, scientists hope to collect information on
burning rates of flames, flame structures and conditions of flame
extinction. Detailed knowledge of how fuel droplets burn is an
important factor in the design and improvement of furnaces for
material processing, heating homes and businesses, producing power by
gas turbines as well as combustion of gasoline in vehicle engines.
- "A major amount of the energy produced around the world comes
from burning fuels," said Dr. Vedha Nayagam, project scientist
for the Droplet Combustion Experiment, from the NASA Lewis Research
Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "By studying burning fuel droplets in
space and comparing the results to theoretical models, we can learn
about the chemistry of these fuels. This will help us to burn these
fuels more efficiently and minimize pollutants."
- After the Electromagnetic Containerless Processing Facility -- known
by its German acronym, TEMPUS -- completed a 20 hour pumping-down
process to establish a vacuum within the facility's chamber, Payload
Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch powered on the facility and performed a
complete checkout of the hardware. Using ground-based computer
commanding, the TEMPUS experiment team worked through the night and
into the early morning hours to get the facility into the right
condition to begin processing samples.
- "TEMPUS researchers whose samples were processed during the minimum
duration flight in April learned how their samples performed in the
microgravity environment of space. Using this knowledge, they were
able to fine-tune their experiments for this flight," said Dr. Jan
Rogers, TEMPUS project scientist with Marshall Space Flight Center.
- During an experiment run to process a sample of Zirconium, the
facility's temperature control apparatus did not work as expected.
Troubleshooting efforts are underway.
- Before beginning his daily exercise period, Crouch installed a
camera and VCR to document an experiment called Internal Flows in a
Free Drop, which was conducted later in the multi-purpose Glovebox
facility. He also configured the experiment's computer and conducted
a calibration run.
- Handover to the red shift science team occurred at 1 a.m. CDT. The
red shift crew consists of Mission Specialists Dr. Donald Thomas,
Commander Jim Halsell, Pilot, Susan Still and Payload Specialist
Dr. Gregory Linteris. The seven-member crew is split into two shifts
so that scientific work can continue around the clock, maximizing use
of the precious time in orbit..
- After completing his daily exercise period, Thomas conducted the
Internal Flows in a Free Drop experiment in the Glovebox. He deployed
free single liquid drops of varying sizes and then positioned the
spinning drops using sound waves or acoustic manipulation. Tracer
particles inside the drops give scientists the ability to map the
internal flows taking place as the drops are manipulated by sound
- Acoustic positioning is an important technique used in the
containerless processing of materials. This investigation, led by
Dr. Satwindar S. Sadhal of the University of Southern California in
Los Angeles, will allow researchers to assess the potential for a
containerless, non-contact mixing method that could lead to
improvements in chemical manufacturing, petroleum technology,
cosmetics and food sciences.
- At 4:15 a.m. CDT, the first order of business for Payload Specialist
Linteris was to prepare the Combustion Module -1 for a second
fire-related experiment in the Laminar Soot Processes investigation.
The module, developed by the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, will
test hardware and experiment techniques to be used on the
International Space Station -- demonstrating its ability to
accommodate a variety of combustion experiments.
- Linteris performed a propane-fueled soot experiment. This run of
the soot experiment had a lower chamber pressure, an increased flow of
fuel and a longer burning time than the first run, conducted Wednesday
afternoon. It produced a "beautiful and steady flame," according to
- "We will use the first few experiment runs to set parameters for
the remaining runs. The crew did an outstanding job of setting and
running the two tests. Determining the settings for future runs will
improve the efficiency of the experiment operations which are designed
to determine under what conditions soot is produced by flames and what
the composition of soot is," said Dr. Gerard Faeth of the University
of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Later, Linteris initiated a sample in the Large Isothermal Furnace
to test a specially designed experiment cartridge that will be used to
conduct two of the metallic alloy diffusion studies. The studies will
use the shear cell method to determine the rate of diffusion.
- The shear cell method involves two column samples of different
concentrations of chemical dopants, or very dilute alloys. The
columns are melted, then rotated into contact with each other for a
specific period of time. The resulting single column is sheared into
segments and cooled. Measurements are made post-flight to determine
concentration of the dopants in the segments. From these
measurements, the rate of diffusion is calculated.
- Using the shear cell method, this study may also reveal the rate of
diffusion of tin and lead-tin-telluride. Findings could lead to a
better understanding of the diffusion process and improved metal
alloys and products. The experiments lead scientist is Dr. Shinichi
Yoda of the National Space Development Agency of Japan in Tsukuba,
- Ahead, Linteris will perform a shear cell rotation of the sample
processing in the Large Isothermal Furnace and will conduct a third
run of the soot experiment in the Combustion Module -1. Thomas will
transfer the ASTRO/Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus from the
Shuttle's Middeck to the EXPRESS Rack.
- On Thursday, July 3, 1997, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 5
- Science activities continue at a brisk pace aboard Columbia as the
crew supports more than 30 investigations focusing on plant and
crystal growth and the behavior of flame in a microgravity
- Today, Commander Jim Halsell conducted video documentation of some
of the MSL experiments, including transfer of Astro-PGBA by Pilot
Susan Still and Mission Specialist Don Thomas. Thomas also spent part
of his day working with the glovebox unit and the Internal Flows in a
Free Drop experiment. Payload Specialist Greg Linteris worked with the
Combustion Module and the Laminar Soot Process experiment.
- Earlier today, ground controllers assisted the crew in removing an
extension tool used to bolt a plant growth experiment into the Express
Rack located in theSpacelab module. The extension tool, essentially a
long-handled allen wrench, became stuck to a bolt located at the
corner of a locker space as they installed the Astro-PGBA
experiment. Crew members used a pry bar and pliers to nudge the tool
loose. Astro-PGBA was installed in the Express Rack after being moved
from its stowage location on Columbia landing.
- Following a handover of responsibilities shortly after noon, the Blue
Team astronauts, Payload Commander Janice Voss, Mission Specialist
Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch continued
around-the-clock support of science activity. Their work today will
focus primarily on combustion investigations. Voss worked with ground
controllers mid-way through the blue team shift to re-start the
Experiment Computer Operating System (ECOS) which went down briefly. A
20-minute procedure brought the ECOS back on line.
- The seven astronauts sent an early July 4th greeting to the nation
today. Voss and Gernhardt also took time to discuss their science
activities with students in Victorville, California.
- On Thursday, July 3, 1997, 6:00 p.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 05
reports: (MET 02/4:58)
- Aboard Space Shuttle Columbia this morning Mission Specialist
Dr. Donald Thomas transferred the plant growth experiment from the
Shuttle's middeck to the EXPRESS Rack, a facility designed for quick
and easy installation of hardware and experiments on Space
Station. The plant growth experiment is one of two Microgravity
Science Laboratory studies that will check the design, development and
adaptation of the EXPRESS Rack.
- Called the ASTRO/Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, the plant
growth experiment is studying the effect of space on certain types of
plants. The investigation examines the production of lignin, essential
for the formation and joining of woody cell walls in plants; the
production of secondary metabolites, essential for generating energy
needed to sustain vital life processes; and changes which occur in the
sugars and starches of vegetable plants.
- Researchers are interested in determining if these plant processes
are interrelated and how they might be manipulated to improve plant
growth and production on Earth. Findings may also verify evidence that
plants grown in microgravity require less metabolic energy to produce
lignin, permitting greater production of secondary metabolites, a
source of many medicinal drugs. Secondary metabolites may also be used
to attract, repel or poison insects.
- Plants being studied aboard Space Shuttle Columbia, include
Artemisia annua, a species of sage native to Southeast Asia and a
source of the antimalarial drug artemisinin; Catharanthus roseus,
which produces vinca alkaloids, used in chemotherapy treatment of
cancer; Pinus taeda, or loblolly pine, used widely in the paper and
lumber industries; and Spinacia oleracea, a variety of spinach.
- Payload Specialist Dr. Gregory Linteris performed a shear cell
rotation of the sample processing in the Large Isothermal
Furnace. This procedure is part of a study which tests a specially
designed shear cell cartridge to determine the diffusion coefficient
-- a fundamental quantity which describes the diffusion process -- of
- The shear cell method involves two column samples, one pure sample
and one sample with an additive. The columns are melted, then rotated
into contact with each other for a specific period of time. The
resulting single column is sheared into segments and cooled for
post-flight analysis. "Outward signs of a good experiment are
duration and steadiness of temperature -- the environment -- and the
completeness of each rotation", said Richard Dewitt, senior project
engineer with NASA's Lewis Research Center. "Today's experiment was
right on the money".
- These investigations are providing researchers with a better
understanding of the diffusion process and may lead to improved
techniques for processing metallic alloys on Earth and in turn better
- Linteris completed a second successful run today of a propane-fueled
soot study to investigate the properties of soot. "We are burning
fuels at different atmospheres because soot is very sensitive to
pressure. The higher the pressure the more soot produced", said
Dr. Gerard Faeth of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
- Later in the day another test run was completed using Ethylene
fuel. "Different fuel types also make a big difference", explained
Faeth. "Natural gas, for instance, tends to make little soot. And it
is widely used in the U.S., so it is of interest to us. Propane
produces more soot, and Ethylene, used in diesel engines, produces
- Information from this study may lead to a better understanding of
how to contain unwanted fires and limit the number of fatalities from
carbon monoxide emissions.
- Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss and Payload Specialist Dr. Roger
Crouch assumed science operations just after noon today.
- Voss began a series of small droplet runs this afternoon to study a
burning fuel droplet of heptane, part of the Droplet Combustion
Experiment. The investigation is collecting information on burning
rates of flames, flame structures and conditions under which flames
are extinguished. Findings from this study will provide researchers
with a better understanding of the combustion process and may lead to
cleaner and safer ways to burn fossil fuels as well as more efficient
methods of generating heat and power on Earth.
- Crouch initiated a run of the Liquid Phase Sintering experiment in
the Large Isothermal Furnace. During the experiment samples of
tungsten, nickel and iron and tungsten, nickel and copper are heated
to 1,500 degrees Celsius. When heated, nickel, iron and copper will
melt to create solid- liquid mixtures. "Sintering is thermal heating
that causes particles to bond together," said Dr. Randall German with
Pennsylvania State University. "On Earth, sintering distorts the
material. We are trying to learn the rules of why things distort on
Earth. And we are".
- Late this afternoon, Crouch conducted a fluid physics experiment in
Middeck Glovebox facility. The Internal Flows in Free Drop experiment
examines techniques for controlling the position and motion of liquids
in low-gravity. Results may find application in improving many
important processes used by chemical manufacturing industries on
Earth, including the petroleum technology, cosmetics and food sciences
industries. The study is lead by Dr. S.S. Sadhal of the University of
Southern California in Los Angeles.
- The computer system aboard the Shuttle which sends commands to
experiment facilities had to be rebooted twice this afternoon after it
locked up. The crew was able to reboot the system with no impact to
- The TEMPUS team believes it has now resolved a problem experienced
earlier this morning involving a temperature controller used to melt
material samples. The team is continuing to troubleshoot a problem
with one of the two video cameras used to record data from the
experiment. As a result of trouble shooting efforts, one of the
planned experiment runs has been delayed.
- Ahead, Crouch will complete another test of the soot experiment in
the Combustion Module. Voss will continue with the Droplet Combustion
Experiment. Voss will exchange the sample in the Large Isothermal
Furnace and conduct another run of the Liquid Phase Sintering
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