STS-94 Day 11 Highlights
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- On Friday, July 11, 1997, 6:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 20
- Ten days since being launched from the Kennedy Space Center.
Columbia continues to orbit the Earth in excellent condition,
providing a platform for more than 30 separate scientific
investigations. Onboard the Shuttle, the STS-94 crew, split into two
teams, continues around-the-clock work in support of the Microgravity
- Before finishing up their Flight Day 10 activities and going to bed
early this morning, blue team crewmembers Mike Gernhardt and Roger
Crouch conducted an interview with CBS' "Up to the Minute" program
during which they discussed the activities and progress that had been
made so far on the STS-94 flight. Gernhardt, Crouch and with Payload
Commander Janice Voss began an eight-hour sleep period just after 3
- Also near the end of the blue team's day, Voss and Gernhardt began
an in-flight maintenance activity to troubleshoot a problem with a
television camera on the TEMPUS experiment. Shortly after they began
to remove the two dozen plus screws on a TEMPUS panel, the crew found
that several of the screws would not rotate. Flight controllers told
the crew to suspend the activity until officials at the Payload
Operations Control Center (POCC) at the Marshall Space Flight Center
had an opportunity to study the problem further.
- After awakening just before midnight, the red team took
responsibility for the management of science operations aboard the
Shuttle around 1 a.m.
- For the red team, Don Thomas worked with the Middeck Glovebox unit
and the Fiber Supported Droplet Combustion (FSDC) experiment while
Greg Linteris spent time with the Droplet Combustion Experiment (DCE).
Both FSDC and DCE are gathering combustion data not possible on Earth
because of gravity-induced buoyancy flows. Information learned from
these experiments may contribute to cleaner and safer use of fossil
fuels and reduced air pollutants.
- In the afternoon, Thomas will continue his work with FSDC while
Linteris will shift his attention to the Combustion Module and the
Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number (SOFBALL). SOFBALL
studies stationary spherical flames and the major elements of the
combustion process. Data from SOFBALL may aid in development of
improvements in lean-burning internal combustion engines, an
advancement that holds the promise of providing increased efficiency
and reduced emissions. The research also could lead to improvements in
fire safety for mine shafts, chemical plants, and spacecraft.
- Following the next handover with their blue team counterparts just
after 12 noon, the blue team will once again assume responsibility for
the management of science operations aboard the Shuttle around 1:00
p.m. this afternoon.
- This evening, as the blue team winds up their efforts, Gernhardt and
Crouch will conduct an interview with CONUS Communications. The
interview will take place at 7:32 p.m. CDT and will have participation
from television stations in Cleveland, Roanoke and Atlanta.
- On Friday, July 11, 1997, 7:00 a.m. CST, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 17
- Now entering day 11 of the Microgravity Science Laboratory mission,
crew members and science teams are reporting steady growth of good
returns with their investigations. "Science teams are getting
everything they hoped for, and in some cases, more than they hoped,"
said Mission Manager Teresa Vanhooser of NASA's Marshall Space Flight
Center in Huntsville, Ala. " We're seeing a lot of smiling faces in
the science operations areas."
- The flame ball experiment is one that is yielding good results. The
experiment, being conducted in the Combustion Module experiment
facility aboard Spacelab, studies the burning processes of very weak
mixtures of fuel and air in weightlessness. The diluted mixtures are
so weak they will not burn under the influence of Earth's gravity.
- Last night, Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss completed one burn and
attempted another. The first run resulted in two flame balls that
burned for almost the entire 500-second duration of the test. The
mixture didn't ignite on the reburn. "This is not surprising," said
lead scientist Dr. Paul Ronney of the University of Southern
California in Los Angles, "since the flame balls in the first run
burned out before the duration, which means they consumed most of the
fuel available to them."
- The investigation is providing researchers with a better
understanding of the combustion process and may be used to improve
theoretical models. "Not much is known about the burning processes of
these mixtures," said Ronney. "So we are trying to see which, if any,
theoretical models should be used." Results from the experiment may
also lead to increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions in
combustion engines, and improvements in fire safety which would
benefit the mining, chemical manufacturing and aerospace industries.
- Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch performed an experiment in the
Middeck Glovebox last night to study the manipulation of bubble
movement and shape in water. During the experiment, an air bubble is
deployed into a water-filled chamber. Sound waves are used to distort
the shape of the bubble, and instruments record the bubble's movement
as the shape of the bubble changes. Researchers will use this
information to gain a better understanding of fluid physics and
improve theoretical models which describe these fundamental processes.
- Late last night, crew members began a procedure to fix the top-view
camera in the TEMPUS levitating facility. The camera stopped working
earlier in the mission. Crew members were unable to complete the
procedure because they could not remove all the screws from the panel
covering the camera. The crew and science team are continuing to
troubleshoot the problem.
- Pilot Susan Still performed a shear cell rotation of a sample
processing in the Large Isothermal Furnace. This procedure is part of
a study examining the diffusion process of tracers, or impurities, in
melted germanium, an element widely used as a semiconductor and
- During the shear cell rotation, samples of pure germanium and doped
germanium, or one with an additive, are rotated into contact with each
other. After an opportunity to mingle together, or diffuse, the
resulting single sample is sheared into segments and
cooled. Fundamental measurements taken from the segments may have
applications for improving semiconductors used in electronic
- Linteris began his shift early this morning working in the Droplet
Combustion Apparatus, a facility designed to accommodate a study of
burning fuel droplets. "We are burning heptane fuel droplets at
different pressures over a range of atmospheric concentrations to map
the burning characteristics of the droplets, to learn what is
happening," explained Dr. Vedha Nayagam of NASA's Lewis Research
Center in Cleveland, Ohio. The run conducted this morning was at
one-half atmospheric pressure, half of that on Earth, in a 30-percent
concentration of oxygen. "Everything went great," said Nayagam. "We
got some really fantastic runs."
- The study is providing researchers with fundamental knowledge of the
burning process and may provide a method for verifying which complex,
chemical model accurately describes the process. It may also lead to
cleaner and safer ways to burn fuels.
- Thomas spent the morning preparing to conduct an experiment in the
Middeck Glovebox. The experiment studies the burning process of
single, large fuel droplets. A thin fiber is used to position the
large fuel droplets in the viewing area. The droplets are ignited and
the burning characteristics, such as burn rates, flame positions and
the diameters of the droplets at the time the flames are extinguished,
are measured. 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 a better understanding of
the combustion process and its by-products, such as soot, a harmful
- Coming up, Linteris will complete the series of runs under way in
the Droplet Combustion Apparatus before beginning another test of the
flame ball experiment. Thomas will begin the Fiber Supported Droplet
Combustion experiment in the Middeck Glovebox. Later, he will initiate
another study of undercooled metallic alloys in the TEMPUS levitating
facility. Undercooling is when a liquid is cooled below its normal
freezing point and still remains a liquid. This TEMPUS investigation
will study nucleation, or the point at which solidification from the
melted state begins.
- On Friday, July 11, 1997, 5:00 p.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 21
- Columbia's astronauts continued their steady pace of scientific
investigation today, with mission commander Jim Halsell expressing his
satisfaction with their efforts at the end of red team's day, telling
flight controllers to "chalk up another one for STS-94".
- The red team, Halsell, Susan Still, Don Thomas and Greg Linteris,
successfully completed an in-flight maintenance activity begun
overnight by the blue team, to troubleshoot a problem with a
television camera on the TEMPUS electromagnetic levitation experiment.
Still used a screwdriver and hammer to loosen three bolts that would
not rotate during the initial effort. With that complete, the
astronauts removed a panel to gain access to wiring to recover the use
of the overhead camera.
- The red team's work today focused on droplet combustion experiments
housed in the Middeck Glovebox and Droplet Combustion facilities.
- Following a handover between teams at about 1:30 p.m. central time
today, the blue team of Janice Voss, Mike Gernhardt and Roger Crouch
once again assumed responsibility for the Microgravity Science
Laboratory investigations. Crouch will continue work with experiments
in the Middeck Glovebox, while Gernhardt conducts experiment and
facilities status checks. Voss, who was scheduled to support Droplet
Combustion Experiments (DCE) during the first portion of her day, will
have some time off. The DCE investigation has been using fuel at a
slightly higher rate than expected and investigators are currently
determining priorities for the investigation for the remainder of the
flight. Voss may receive additional science duties during that free
time as requirements dictate.
- In addition to their science duties today, Gernhardt and Crouch will
take time this evening to talk with affiliates of CONUS Communications
located in Cleveland, Ohio; Roanoke, Virginia; and Atlanta, Georgia.
That interview will take place shortly after 7:30 p.m. central time.
- On Friday, July 11, 1997, 6:00 p.m. CDT, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 18
reports: (MET 10/4:58)
- The crew aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia has had another busy day
conducting materials and combustion experiments in the Spacelab.
- Today, crew members worked in the Glovebox to conduct additional
Fiber Supported Droplet Combustion experiment. Mission Specialist
Dr. Don Thomas spent most of the morning, and Payload Specialist
Dr. Roger Crouch spent the afternoon, conducting the experiment to
study the combustion process of large droplets of fuel.
- "In this experiment we're burning heptane and hexadecane --
hydrocarbon fuels which are similar to gasoline," said co-investigator
Dr. Benjamin Shaw of the University of California in Davis, Calif.
"Hexadecane has a much higher boiling point than heptane and when you
mix these two together some peculiar things happen."
- "Specifically we're looking to see whether the fuel drop will have a
bubble that will grow inside and then shatter the drop. Sometimes
these flames will pulsate and we want to know when that pulsation
occurs because that tells us what is going on within the droplet
itself," said Shaw.
- The Fiber Supported Droplet Combustion experiment allows scientists
to study the burning of fuel droplets nearly one-quarter inch in
diameter. The experiment will shed light on the role that convection
plays in burning by introducing a controlled air-flow into the flame
environment during the experiment.
- Results of this experiment, led by Dr. Forman Williams of the
University of California in San Diego, could lead to the efficient
utilization of fossil fuels and reduction of air pollution.
- This morning Linteris set up the Combustion Module -1 and conducted
another run of the flame ball or Structure at Low Lewis-number
experiment. This run of the experiment used a fuel mixture of
hydrogen, oxygen and sulfur hexafluoride at one atmospheric pressure
-- the same as on Earth. Linteris sparked the fuel mixture in the
test chamber, producing one burning ball of flame. Upon a reburn
attempt, another flame ball was ignited.
- "We had a very successful burn and reburn this morning," said
project scientist Dr. Karen Weiland. The initial flame ball burned
steadily for the duration of the experiment -- 500 seconds.
- The flame ball experiment is designed to determine under what
conditions a stable flame ball can exist and if heat loss is
responsible for the stabilization of the flame ball during burning.
The experiment also examines how various mixture properties, such as
fuel/oxidizer concentrations and temperature, affect the flame-ball's
stability and existence.
- Around noon, Thomas initiated a nickel sample from an experiment led
by Dr. D.M. Herlach of the German Aerospace Research Establishment in
Cologne in the TEMPUS levitation facility. This experiment studies
the solidification velocity of dendrites -- tiny branching structures
-- that form as metals solidify. The size, shape and structure of the
dendrites have a major effect on the strength and usefulness of an
- Measurements of the speed of dendritic solidification can be used to
test and refine modeling of dendritic growth behavior. This type of
experiment must be performed in microgravity because crystal growth
can be greatly affected by connective fluid flow or buoyancy-driven
motion, in molten metal. The low-acceleration environment in space
effectively eliminates convection. Comparing space experiment data to
those obtained on Earth will allow researchers to learn more about the
effect convection has on dendrite growth. Information gained from
this experiment could have applications in welding and casting.
- Before taking a scheduled half-day break, Payload Commander
Dr. Janice Voss performed a procedure to fix the top-view camera in
the TEMPUS facility. The camera had stopped working earlier in the
mission. The proceedure was a success, and the camera is operational.
The side-view camera has remained operational throughout the mission
and investigators have been able to receive data despite the
malfunction of the top-view camera.
- This afternoon, Crouch initiated the sixth and last sample run of
the diffusion in molten semiconductors experiment in the Large
Isothermal Furnace. This is the first time diffusion in
semiconductors has been studied in space. Results of the experiment
could improve semiconductors used in electronic components.
- Ahead Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss will perform a run of the
flame ball experiment and Crouch will continue to perform the Fiber
Supported Droplet Combustion experiment.
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