STS-94 Day 5 Highlights
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- On Saturday, July 5, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 8
- Almost 100 hours into their flight, Columbia's astronauts
continue their around-the-clock science efforts while a Russian
resupply vehicle is making its way towards the Mir space station.
- Red team crew members Commander Jim Halsell, Pilot Susan Still,
Mission Specialist Don Thomas and Payload Specialist Greg Linteris
have been busy with another day of in-flight activities since being
awakened just before midnight.
- Like their previous duty day, Halsell has been performing status
checks and video documentation of some experiments while Still has
been overseeing orbiter systems. Later today Halsell is scheduled to
have two communication sessions with school children using the Shuttle
Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) system. Thomas' efforts today
have been with the Large Isothermal Furnace facility and the Glovebox
unit while Linteris has continued his work with the Droplet Combustion
- About the same time as the Red team was waking up, a Russian
Progress resupply vehicle was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at
11:11 p.m. CDT last evening. A few minutes later, flight controllers
in the Russian mission control center confirmed the vehicle had
achieved orbit insertion. The Progress vehicle is scheduled to dock
with the Mir space station on Monday, July 7, at 12:58 a.m. CDT. A
Mir status briefing from the Johnson Space Center is scheduled today
at 9 a.m. CDT.
- The Red team will begin an eight-hour sleep period just after 3
p.m. today and will be awakened just after 11 p.m. central time to
once again assume responsibility for orbiter and science operations.
- Columbia's systems continue to operate properly, providing a stable
platform for microgravity science operations as the Shuttle circles
the Earth every 90 minutes
- On Saturday, July 5, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 07
reports: (MET 03/14:58)
- As America celebrated the country's birthday, the crew of
Microgravity Science Laboratory -1 mission set off its own special
fireworks. For the past 24 hours, combustion experiments aboard
Columbia have been the main focus of science activity in the Spacelab.
- Yesterday, three series of burning fuel droplet runs were completed
in the Droplet Combustion Apparatus. Payload Specialist Dr. Gregory
Linteris completed one series Friday morning and then another during
his next shift -- early Saturday. Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss
completed one series run Friday afternoon.
- During the experiment a heptane fuel droplet is burned in an
atmosphere of helium and oxygen. The droplet is formed and deployed
in the apparatus. Igniter wires are touched to the sides of the
droplet then retracted to create a free burning droplet.
- "We look at the flame location, the diameter of the droplet and soot
production", explained lead scientist Dr. Forman Williams of the
University of California at San Diego. "Droplet burning occurs in
spray combustion, such as in diesel engines, and is relevant to power
production and the burning of fossil fuels".
- Yesterday and early this morning, crew members worked in Middeck
Glovebox to conduct the Fiber Supported Droplet Combustion experiment,
also led by Williams. The experiment studies the burning process of
single, large fuel droplets. Mission Specialist Dr. Donald Thomas
completed a series of tests yesterday morning burning methanol and
ethanol fuel droplets. Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch completed
a series of tests last night burning droplets of a mixture of methanol
- A thin fiber is used to position the large fuel droplets in the
viewing area. Once the drops are ignited, researchers measure
characteristics, such as burning rates, flame positions and the
diameters of the droplets at the time the flames are extinguished.
The study also investigates how the burning process is influenced by
convection, or the transfer of heat caused by motion in the air.
Results from this study may lead to increased fuel efficiency and a
reduction in air pollutants on Earth.
- In the Combustion Module --1, two runs the Laminar Soot Processes
experiment were completed Friday. Linteris completed one test just
before noon and Voss completed another last night. Both studied the
burning of an ethylene-fueled flame. The soot investigation is
gathering information on flame shape, the type and amount of soot
produced under various conditions and the temperature of soot
- As principal investigator Dr. Gerard Faeth of the University of
Michigan in Ann Arbor explains, it would be very difficult to conduct
this experiment on Earth. "Imagine a campfire" said Faeth, "the
yellow color of the fire is soot. But the fire is burning very fast
and sparks are shooting out in all directions. Obviously, not the
ideal environment for studying soot".
- Findings from this investigation may lead to a better understanding
of how to contain unwanted fires and limit the number of fatalities
from carbon monoxide emissions.
- Before the end of his shift yesterday at noon, Thomas completed a
disk change-out of the Quasi-Steady and Space Acceleration Measurement
system. The system is one of four on board the Shuttle which detects
and records the small, yet unavoidable disturbances in the near-zero
gravity environment of the Spacelab. Science teams rely on the
information, down-linked in near-real-time, to determine the effect of
the disturbances on experiments.
- Late Friday afternoon, Crouch activated an experiment in the
electromagnetic containerless processing facility, called TEMPUS.
"We've had a very successful experiment run, collecting a wide variety
of data on the properties of our sample and its ability to freeze or
solidify. This is important to our understanding of theoretical
models of liquid crystallization and to processing metallic-glass
materials", said principle investigator Dr. W.I. Johnson of the
California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.
- The TEMPUS investigation is designed to measure the thermophysical
properties -- heat capacity, thermal conductivity, nucleation rates,
surface tension, viscosity and thermal expansion -- of glass-forming
metallic alloys. Findings from the experiment using a
zirconium-titanium alloy may improve ground-based techniques for
processing materials and in turn improve materials and products.
- Later, Crouch removed a sample run of the Liquid Phase Sintering
Experiment from the Large Isothermal Furnace and initiated the next
run of this investigation. During the experiment, compressed powders
of tungsten, nickel, iron, tungsten, nickel and copper are heated to
1,500 degrees Celsius. When heated, the nickel, iron and copper melt
but the tungsten does not. This forms a solid-liquid mixture.
Researchers are using these mixtures to study the sintering process,
or how these particles bond when heated.
- "On Earth, these mixtures settle out and sintering results in a
distorted material", explained lead scientist Dr. Randall German of
Pennsylvania State University in University Park. "How to make
materials of the right shape and size with no distortion is fundamenal
to powder metallurgy, so we are learning why distortion occurs on
- Early this morning after the sintering sample had finished
processing in the Large Isothermal Furnace, Thomas removed it and
initiated a study to establish an accurate measurement of the
diffusion coefficient -- a fundamental quantity which describes the
diffusion process -- of liquid tin in relation to temperature.
- On Earth, diffusion experiments conducted at high temperatures have
been unsuccessful due to fluid movement caused by gravity. This
experiment, led by Dr. Toshio Itami of the Hokkaido University in
Sapporo, Japan, may help researchers more clearly define the diffusion
process and could lead to improved processing techniques and products
- Later, Thomas set up the Bubble and Drop Nonlinear Dynamics
experiment -- led by Dr. L.G. Leal of the University of California at
Santa Barbara -- in the Glovebox. Results could lead to techniques
that eliminate or counteract the complications that bubbles cause
during materials processing.
- Ahead, Thomas will perform the Bubble Drop and Non-linear Dynamics
experiment in the Glovebox and Linteris will continue the combustion
studies --conducting more runs of the Droplet Combustion Experiment.
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