STS-94 Day 12 Highlights
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- On Saturday, July 12, 1997, 7:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 22
- Around-the-clock science investigations continue aboard Columbia
with the focus this morning on developing better methods for the
efficient use of fossil fuels while reducing emissions and air
- The seven-astronaut crew of STS-94 - divided into two teams -
provides on-orbit assistance to ground controllers throughout the
mission conducting these, and as many as 30 other, experiments in the
Spacelab pressurized module which is emulating what laboratory work
will be like on the future International Space Station.
- The Red team of astronauts began its twelfth flight day in space at
about midnight with mission Commander Jim Halsell and Pilot Susan
Still watching over orbiter systems while Mission Specialist Don
Thomas and Payload Specialist Greg Linteris oversee science
- Much of Thomas' day is focused on the Fiber Supported Droplet
Combustion experiment in the Spacelab glovebox to assist investigators
in what could eventually lead to more efficient utilization of fossil
fuels and reduction of air pollutants. Halsell and Still supported
the experiment work by periodically turning off the shuttle's thruster
jets to provide a 'quiet' environment for Thomas' work.
- Linteris worked on another experiment through the first half of his
workday called the Structure of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number that
in the future may lead to the development of improvements in lean
burning internal combustion engines - an advancement that holds
promise in providing increased efficiency and reduced emissions.
- Earlier this morning, Halsell and Still entertained questions from a
television station in his home state of Louisiana, with the focus on
Halsell's background and the mission's objectives.
- The Blue team of Janice Voss, Mike Gernhardt and Roger Crouch turned
the reins over to the Red team about 1 a.m. today and is scheduled to
wake up about noon.
- On Saturday, July 12, 1997, 7:00 a.m. CDT, STS-94 Payload Status Report # 19
reports: (MET 10/17:58)
- The Shuttle Columbia crew and the Microgravity Science Laboratory
are rounding the final turn and heading into the home stretch of their
16-day run of conducting science in space. According to Mission
Scientist Dr. Mike Robinson, things continue to go well. "The science
teams have been working very hard, and they're happy with what they've
seen so far," said Robinson.
- The science team for the flame ball experiment was happy with what
it saw last night, reporting two more series of successful runs. The
investigation, being conducted in the Middeck Glovebox, examines the
combustion properties of very weak fuel mixtures in near-zero gravity.
Payload Commander Dr. Janice Voss completed one set of runs last night
and Payload Specialist Dr. Gregory Linteris completed another early
this morning. "The experiment is going extremely well and the science
team is getting fantastic data," said lead investigator Dr. Paul
Ronney of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
- During the experiment, the chamber is filled with very weak
combustible gases, the mixture is ignited with a spark, and
information is gathered on the resulting flame balls. "We're
interested in learning which mixtures will burn and which ones won't,"
said Ronney, "and the limits of combustion -- where the weakest
possible flames can exist."
- Also, Ronney reported that during last night's burns, instruments
measured very little disturbance in the microgravity environment of
the test facility. "The flame is being driven by hot gases surrounding
the flame and these gases are extremely sensitive," said Ronney, "so
it's important to minimize disturbances in the environment."
- Since little is known about the burning processes of these flames,
findings will be used to verify which, if any, existing theoretical
models are accurate. "We want a steady flame so we can easily compare
it to computer models on the ground," said Ronney. "Any disturbances
make that comparison more difficult."
- Another combustion science experiment, which studies the burning
process of large fuel droplets, was conducted in the Middeck
Glovebox. Payload Specialist Dr. Roger Crouch completed a series of
tests last night and another series was completed this morning by
Mission Specialist Dr. Donald Thomas. "We are ahead of schedule," said
investigator Dr. Ron Colantonio of NASA's Lewis Research Center in
Cleveland, Ohio. "We've been able to complete a few extra runs and
we're getting good science."
- During the experiment, a thin fiber is used to position a large
droplet of fuel in the viewing area of the chamber. The droplet is
then ignited and information is gathered on the burn rates, flame
shape and radiation emitted. "The amount of energy lost through
radiation has never been measured before," said Colantonio. "People
have guessed what that is. We're actually going to measure it."
- Information from this study can also help improve theoretical models
of combustion. It will also complement what is being learned from the
Droplet Combustion Experiment, also being conducted aboard
Spacelab. That experiment is studying the burning processes of heptane
fuel droplets. Like the Droplet Combustion Experiment, the Fiber
Supported Droplet experiment also burns heptane fuel droplets, but in
an environment of oxygen and hydrogen, rather than oxygen and
helium. "By changing one parameter, we will be able to measure the
effect of the different combinations of elements in the environment,"
said Colantonio. "This will be very beneficial to the Droplet
Combustion science team."
- Overnight, two shear cell rotations of the sixth and final run of an
investigation to study the diffusion process of tracers, or
impurities, in melted germanium were conducted. Crouch performed the
first rotation last night and a second rotation was performed by Pilot
Susan Still early this morning. "It looks like we saved the best for
last," said lead scientist Dr. David Matthiesen of Case Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. "We're optimistic the results
of this test will be good."
- The experiment involves two samples, one of pure germanium and one
of germanium with an additive. The first shear rotation brings samples
into contact with other. After diffusing, or mixing, for a certain
amount of time, the resulting single sample is sheared into segments
and cooled for post-flight analysis.
- Germanium is an element widely used as a semiconductor. Knowledge
gained from this study may be used to improve the performance of
electronic components made from semiconductor materials, such as
transistors and integrated circuits.
- Last night in the TEMPUS facility, Crouch initiated an experiment to
measure the surface tension and viscosity of undercooled liquid
metals. During the experiment, an electromagnetic pulse is used to
squeeze, then release a sample -- in this case, liquefied gold --
being levitated in the facility. Researchers then gather information
on the oscillations, or changes in the sample's shape. From these
measurements researchers are able to determine the surface tension and
viscosity -- or resistance to flow -- of the sample. This is a new
technique which is allowing researchers to measure some of the
fundamental properties of liquid gold for the first time.
- One aim of the investigation is to achieve improvements in materials
processing techniques on Earth, in turn making possible better
- Ahead, Thomas will continue to conduct the Fiber Supported Droplet
Combustion experiment in the Middeck Glovebox and Linteris will begin
the third phase of the Droplet Combustion Experiment. This phase of
the study is designed to map the burning characteristics of a heptane
fuel droplet at one-quarter atmospheric pressure, a fourth of the
atmospheric density on Earth, at varying oxygen concentrations.
- On Saturday, July 12, 1997, 5:30 p.m. CDT, STS-94 MCC Status Report # 23
- Space Shuttle Columbia continues to provide a solid platform for
microgravity science experiments being conducted in the Spacelab
module in the orbiter's cargo bay. The STS-94 mission Saturday passed
the two-thirds complete mark with another full day of experiments in
combustion and materials processing science. Science investigations by
the crew Saturday related primarily to the study of combustion
processes in space and experiments in the Electromagnetic
Containerless Processing Facility. Taking a brief break from science
operations, Red Team members Jim Halsell, Susan Still, Don Thomas and
Greg Linteris sent downlink television of their choice to the ground,
answering Internet questions with a videotaped lesson in combustion
science. Thomas explained the goals of some of the experiments, how
droplets burn in the absence of gravity and the significance of the
work to life on Earth. Still took her blood pressure and pulse
on-orbit and compared them to pre-flight readings. Linteris
demonstrated how liquids behave in a low-gravity environment.
- The three also were interviewed by WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge, La. The
Red Team members took the opportunity to explain some of the
combustion science work under way and commented on the quick
turnaround between the shortened first flight of the MSL payload in
April and the reflight. STS-94 is the fastest reflight of a crew and
payload in shuttle history, making up for the first attempt which was
cut short by suspect performance in a fuel cell.
- The Blue Team of Janice Voss, Mike Gernhardt and Roger Crouch awoke
shortly before 1:30 p.m. CDT to begin its 12th flight day. The Red
Team will awaken again about 11 p.m. CDT and take the duty shift about
1 a.m. The next status report will be issued about 6 a.m. CDT Sunday.
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