STS-94 Day 7 Highlights
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- On Monday, July 7, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 12
- Six days into their flight, the STS-94 astronauts aboard Columbia
continue their around-the-clock scientific effort to examine how
various materials and liquids change and behave in the weightless
environment of space.
- With Columbia providing a stable platform for science activity, the
seven-member crew has been able to devote its full attention to the
more than 30 Microgravity Science Laboratory (MSL) experiments housed
- Commander Jim Halsell continued his status checks of experiments
along with video documentation of experiments while Pilot Susan Still
is monitoring and tending to orbiter systems. The two science members
of the red team, Mission Specialist Don Thomas and Payload Specialist
Greg Linteris are busy back in the pressurized spacelab module with
MSL equipment and experiments. Thomas spent his morning working with
the Large Isothermal Furnace, Quasi-Steady Acceleration Measurement
and TEMPUS facilities. In the afternoon, Thomas also will be working
with experiments in the Glovebox unit. Both the morning and afternoon
of Linterisday will be devoted to the Droplet Combustion Experiment
and the Combustion Module.
- Early into the start of Flight Day 7 activities, Mission Control
informed the crew of the successful docking of the Progress resupply
vehicle. The Progress spacecraft docked to the Mir station just
before 1:00 a.m. CDT. "Thats great news" said Still upon
hearing the news about events on the orbiting Russian facility.
- During the remaining part of Flight Day 7, Halsell, Still and
Linteris are each scheduled for a communication session using the
Shuttle Amateur Radio (SAREX) unit as they take turns talking with
students in schools in Texas, Georgia, and New Mexico.
- Shortly before they turned in for their sleep period last evening,
blue team crew members Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger
Crouch conducted an interview with NBC Nightside to discuss the
progress of the flight and the importance of the experiments being
flown in the Spacelab. They, along with their fellow blue team
member, Payload Commander Janice Voss, will be awakened just after
11 a.m. today to mark the start of the blue teams Flight Day 7.
- The red team will be going to bed shortly after 3 p.m. today.
Following an eight-hour sleep period, and a brief handover with the
blue team, they will once again assume responsibility for orbiter and
- On Monday, July 7, 1997, 7:00 a.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 09
- After short breaks in their busy schedules, crew members of the
Microgravity Science Laboratory mission are back to business, working
around the clock to fulfill the objective of their mission --
fundamental scientific research in space. Most of the last 24 hours
focused on combustion and materials science investigations in space.
- Aboard Columbia Sunday, crew members completed three runs of the
Laminar Soot Experiment -- a combustion investigation that could lead
to a more environmentally friendly fuel burning engine. Using
ethylene gas, Payload Specialist Dr. Greg Linteris completed one run
in the morning, Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch completed one in
the afternoon and Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss completed one late
- Lead scientist Dr. Gerard Faeth of the University of Michigan at Ann
Arbor reported to the crew that the flames so far have been "super"
and that the science team is very pleased with experiment data it has
gathered. "We've learned that as we increase pressure, the amount of
soot in the flame and the amount of soot it emits increases,"
explained Faeth. "It's probably one of the reasons that high pressure
combustion processes -- such as what goes on in a bus engine -- tend
to emit a lot of soot."
- Two samples of the experiment analyzing diffusion in liquid
Lead-tin-telluride were processed in the Large Isothermal Furnace over
the last 24 hours. Linteris initiated the first sample shortly before
his shift ended at noon Sunday and Crouch initiated the experiment's
second run early Sunday evening. Early this morning, Mission
Specialist Dr. Donald Thomas initiated a third run, and it is
continuing to process in the facility.
- The study, led by Ms. Misako Uchida of Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy
Industries in Tokyo, Japan, is aimed at determining the diffusion
coefficient -- a fundamental quantity which describes the diffusion
process -- of liquid lead-tin-telluride. Diffusion is the process by
which liquid metals mix without stirring -- similar to how food
coloring disperses in a glass of water without stirring. Liquid
lead-tin-telluride is a potential material for use in manufacturing
infrared detectors and lasers. Uchida reported the completed runs were
- On Sunday, science teams determined that the Large Isothermal
Furnace has been using more helium than expected. The furnace, a
vacuum-heating facility that is designed to uniformly heat large
samples, uses a helium purge to rapidly cool the samples. The science
team is assessing the helium consumption rate, but estimates that it
is not likely the facility will run out of helium before testing is
- In the German levitating furnace, known as TEMPUS, a sample of a
glass-forming metallic liquid performed just as planned, according to
principal investigator Dr. William Johnson of the California Institute
of Technology in Pasadena. This experiment is measuring the
thermophysical properties -- heat capacity, thermal conductivity,
nucleation rates, surface tension, viscosity and thermal expansion --
of a complex alloy of titanium, zirconium, copper and nickel. "This is
the first time that some of these fundamental measurements have been
ever been taken," said Johnson.
- Early this morning, Thomas activated another experiment in the
TEMPUS facility which studies how glass forms in zirconium-based
alloys. Zirconium is an element found chiefly in ceramic and
refractory compounds. This study is led by Dr. Hans Fecht of the
Technical University Berlin in Germany. Results from TEMPUS
investigations could lead to improved techniques for processing
metallic alloys and in turn better products.
- Voss completed another series of runs of the Droplet Combustion
Experiment Sunday. That marked the beginning of the second of three
phases of the study to map the burning characteristics of heptane fuel
droplets over a range of atmospheric pressures. The first phase burned
the fuel droplets at one atmospheric pressure, the same as on
Earth. This phase is burning the droplets at one-half atmospheric
pressure. "In each phase, we are keeping the pressure the same and
slowly reducing the oxygen to see if the fuels can still burn and if
so, how they burn," said project scientist Dr. Vedha Nayagam of NASA's
Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "On Earth, we encounter low
combustion scenarios -- for instance, in gas turbines -- so it's
important to know what happens when pressure is reduced."
- In one atmospheric pressure the flame burned out, leaving a residue
of fuel. At the lower pressure, the flame is larger so the same
results were expected, but the flame collapsed back on the droplet,
completely consuming it. "It's surprising to see the droplet burn out
completely," said Nayagam. "This tells us something about the
- Linteris attempted to conduct another test this morning but the
droplet did not ignite. The science team is reviewing data to
understand why it didn't. Also, the Droplet Imaging Camera, which
records information about droplet size, is not working. The science
team is proceeding with experiment runs while it assesses the problem.
- Sunday, Crouch conducted an investigation that could result in an
improved understanding of the mechanisms leading to the unstable
operation and sometimes failure of specialized heat transfer devices
in space operations. In space, capillary-pumped loops are used to
transfer heat away from electrical devices to space radiators. These
devices are not always reliable. However, they are very attractive
because they require no power to operate, and are very economical in
terms of weight, an important consideration in satellite design.
- According to investigator Dr. Kevin Hallinan of the University of
Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, the experiment is providing researchers with a
better understanding of the mechanisms behind the unstable operation
and occasional failure of these devices. "The experiment has shown us
that the device is failing for reasons we didn't expect, which
provides new insight into potential failure mechanisms that may have
not been considered before. We're quite pleased with the results so
- Sunday evening, Voss successfully rebooted an electronics unit of
the EXPRESS Rack -- powering it down then back up -- to restore the
facility's communication and telemetry capabilities. The EXPRESS Rack
is designed for quick and easy installation of hardware and
experiments on the International Space Station. Two experiments -- the
Physics of Hard Spheres Experiment and the ASTRO/Plant Generic
Bioprocessing Apparatus -- are being conducted in the EXPRESS Rack to
test its design, development and adaptation.
- The facility was experiencing problems relaying housekeeping
information -- temperature, air pressure and water flow -- to the
ground and receiving ground commands. The Physics of Hard Spheres
science team is now able to send up commands, but the ASTRO/Plant
Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus science team is still unable to
command from the ground and is continuing to troubleshoot the
problem. Crew members are able to command the experiment from the
Spacelab, so there is no impact to science. Restoring housekeeping
data functions would require rebooting the entire system which would
interrupt science, so the EXPRESS Rack team is relying on other,
indirect methods of gathering this information.
- Ahead, Linteris will complete the series of runs under way in the
Droplet Combustion Apparatus. Thomas will work in the Middeck Glovebox
to conduct a study of techniques used to control the position and
motion of free drops of liquid in low-gravity. Linteris will complete
another test of the soot experiment, and Thomas will begin the first
of six runs to study the diffusion process of tracers, or impurities,
in melted germanium, an element widely used as a semiconductor and
- On Monday, July 7, 1997, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 13
- Columbia's seven astronauts continued their steady support of
science investigations in the Spacelab module, focusing on how various
materials and liquids change and behave in the weightless environment
- Throughout the day, the Red team astronauts, Commander Jim Halsell,
Pilot Susan Still, Mission Specialist Don Thomas and Payload
Specialist Greg Linteris, continued work with a variety of
investigations in the Large Isothermal Furnace, Glovebox and
Combustion Module. In addition, Halsell, Still and Linteris each
talked with students at schools located in Texas, Georgia and New
Mexico using the Shuttle Amateur Radio (SAREX) unit.
- As their day was ending, the Red team also sent down some television
sharing images of the four astronauts as they explained the challenges
of working, living and exercising in a microgravity environment.
- The Blue team, Payload Commander Janice Voss, Mission Specialist
Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch, assumed
responsibility for science and orbiter operations shortly after 1
p.m. today. Voss and Crouch will continue work with the Droplet
Combustion Experiment and Laminar Soot Processes investigation, while
Gernhardt performs status checks in the Spacelab module and monitors
all of Columbias systems.
- The Red team will awaken about 11 p.m., following an eight-hour
sleep period, and two hours later will once again be back on duty,
supporting 24-hour science operations on Columbia. The Blue team will
begin its next sleep period shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday.
- On Monday, July 7, 1997, 7:00 p.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 10
- The Microgravity Science Laboratory -1 crew aboard Columbia and
science teams on the ground kept up a solid pace of experiment
- Payload Specialist Dr. Greg Linteris, and Payload Commander
Dr. Janice Voss each conducted a series of Droplet Combustion
Apparatus experiments. Linteris also corrected a glitch with the
droplet imaging camera that hung up during one of the experiment runs.
Researchers report that the brief glitch had no scientific impact on
- Today's droplet combustion experiments were part of the second of a
three phase study to map burning characteristics over a range of
atmospheric pressures. The first phase, completed earlier in the
mission, was conducted at one atmospheric pressure, the same as on
Earth. In the second phase experiments are being conducted at
one-half the Earth's atmospheric pressure. The third phase will use
one-fourth Earth's atmospheric pressure.
- Characterizing the results from today's experiments, scientist
Dr. Forman Williams of the University of California in San Diego said:
"The crew had a tougher time igniting the droplets at this lowered
pressure -- we expected that But, when the fuel droplets did ignite,
they burned stronger and more vigorously than we expected."
- During the experiment an n-heptane fuel droplet is burned in an
atmosphere of helium and oxygen. The droplet is formed and deployed
in the apparatus. Igniter wires are brought close to the sides of the
droplet then retracted to create a free burning droplet.
- Investigators are gathering information on burning rates of flames,
flame structures and conditions under which flames are extinguished.
Results of the investigation will provide researchers with a better
understanding of the combustion process and may lead to cleaner, safer
ways to burn fossil fuels as well as more efficient methods of
generating heat and power on Earth.
- Mid-morning, Mission Specialist Dr. Donald Thomas initiated another
materials experiment in the Large Isothermal Furnace. The experiment,
led by Dr. David Matthiesen of Case Western Reserve University in
Cleveland, Ohio investigates the diffusion process in molten
- This experiment will measure accurately the diffusion of dopants,
deliberately added impurities, into germanium, which could lead to
improved processing techniques for high quality metal alloys and
- Later, Thomas conducted the Internal Flows in a Free Drop experiment
in the Glovebox. He deployed free single liquid drops of water and
water and glycerin 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 waves.
- "We had expected the rotation control to be easier with the second
sample, the water-glycerin sample, but in reality it had a stronger
torque, or twist, so the power had to be turned down," explained the
lead scientist Dr. Satwindar S. Sadhal of the University of Southern
California in Los Angeles.
- Acoustic positioning is an important technique used in the
containerless processing of materials. This investigation 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.
- This morning, Linteris performed an ethylene-fueled run of the soot
experiment -- providing researchers with more information than they
were hoping for.
- "We were able to get information about the condition when the flame
begins to emit soot," explained lead scientist Dr. Gerard Faeth of the
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "After the flame was adjusted,
we got a flame configuration that did not emit nearly as much soot,"
he continued. "We got two for one data; one flame provided
information on two different soot emitting conditions -- something
that is not possible on Earth."
- Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch performed the next to last run
of the soot experiment this afternoon which explored the effect of
increased pressure on flames. "During our experiment runs, we've
gotten interesting difference from anything we've observed on Earth;
we've gotten fairly large flames that are easy to study and we're
certainly able to make observations onboard the shuttle that we
couldn't make on Earth," said Faeth. The soot experiment will
conclude about 9:30 p.m. after its final scheduled run; and the
Combustion Module 1 will be readied for a series of flame ball
- An experiment which studies how glass forms in zirconium-based
alloys completed a 14 hour processing period in the German levitating
furnace, known as TEMPUS around, 4:00 p.m. The results of this study,
led by Dr. Hans Fecht of the Technical University Berlin in Germany,
could lead to improved techniques for processing metallic alloys and
in turn better products.
- Ahead, Voss and Crouch will continue conducting combustion
experiments in the Spacelab. Crouch will conduct another series run
of the Droplet Combustion Experiment and Voss will perform the final
soot experiment before reading the Combustion Module -1 for the flame
ball experiment. Shortly before midnight, Crouch is scheduled to
change out a camera in the TEMPUS facility.
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