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Crew Wraps Up Robonaut Testing
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 07, 2013

Robonaut ISS Checkout; Location: International Space Station, Destiny Lab

The Expedition 34 crew of the International Space Station powered up Robonaut 2 for more remote testing Thursday, deployed hardware for a study of the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body and performed routine maintenance on the systems aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Working inside the Destiny laboratory, Commander Kevin Ford activated Robonaut 2 and set up video cameras to record the second of two days of operations in this latest round of testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Ground teams put Robonaut through its paces as they remotely commanded it to operate valves on a task board.

Robonaut is a testbed for exploring new robotic capabilities in space, and its form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools and control panels as its human counterparts do aboard the station.

Ford, with the assistance of Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn, later performed routine maintenance on the Waste and Hygiene Compartment, one of the toilets aboard the International Space Station. Afterward, the commander disassembled and stowed Robonaut as it awaits its next batch of tests.

Marshburn also worked with Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield in the Columbus laboratory to set up hardware for the European Space Agency's Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES, which studies the effects of microgravity on a crew member's muscular system during spaceflight.

As crew members use the MARES hardware to exercise, it measures seven different human joints, encompassing nine different angular movements, as well as two additional linear movements for the arms and legs.

Hadfield and Marshburn will continue set up of MARES on Friday as they work with Mission Control to troubleshoot an issue that cropped up when they began charging the hardware's batteries.

Hadfield also retrieved some detectors for the RaDI-N Bubble Detector experiment, which seeks to characterize the neutron radiation environment of the station.

Hadfield rounded out his day by partially removing the ISS Agricultural Camera, or ISSAC, from the Window Observational Research Facility (WORF) in the Destiny lab.

ISSAC, which collected imagery of vegetated areas in the Great Plains of the United States for students and faculty at the University of North Dakota, has completed its operations and is making way for the ISS SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV), which is designed to gain experience in automated data acquisition and provide images for disaster monitoring and assessment.

On the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy, Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko spent much of their day recording video of life aboard the space station for a Russian documentary.

Novitskiy also replaced panels in the Zvezda service module and collected some data on the Matryoshka experiment. Named for the traditional set of Russian nesting dolls, Matryoshka analyzes the radiation environment onboard the station.

Tarelkin and Romanenko meanwhile worked with a Russian experiment studying plasma crystal formation in microgravity.

Romanenko, along with Marshburn and Hadfield, also had time set aside for crew orientation to become accustomed to living and working aboard the orbiting complex during their first weeks on orbit. The trio arrived in their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft on Dec. 21 to begin a five month stay aboard the complex.

Earlier Report Robotics for Station Crew
After a light-duty day to ring in the new year, the Expedition 34 crew of the International Space Station returned to work Wednesday with a focus on robotics and medical experiments.

Inside the station's Destiny laboratory, Commander Kevin Ford of NASA assembled and powered up Robonaut 2 for some remote testing for the first humanoid robot in space. Ground teams commanded Robonaut to turn and twist toggle valves and metering valves on a simulated task board.

Robonaut was designed with the intention of eventually taking over tasks deemed too dangerous or mundane for astronauts, perhaps even venturing outside the complex someday to assist spacewalkers. Robonaut's form and dexterity allow it to use the same tools that astronauts currently use and removes the need for specialized tools just for robots.

Flight Engineer Tom Marshburn of NASA participated in the Integrated Cardiovascular experiment, which measures the atrophy of the heart muscle that appears to develop during long-duration spaceflight. Investigators use the data from these tests to develop countermeasures to keep the crew healthy. The research may also have benefits for people on Earth with heart problems.

Marshburn, a medical doctor, also brushed up on Crew Medical Officer duties with an onboard training session. He later took a break from his work for a pair of live in-flight interviews with reporters in his home state of North Carolina.

Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency began his day deploying formaldehyde monitors and acquiring air samples to track any adverse changes in the station's environment. Later he joined Ford and Marshburn to discuss their roles and responsibilities on the U.S. segment of the station.

Hadfield also participated in Crew Medical Officer proficiency training and rounded out his day by recording some podcasts to share the experience of living and working in space.

Meanwhile on the Russian side of the station, Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin replaced panels in the Zvezda service module. The two cosmonauts also conducted the BAR experiment, which looks at methods and instruments for detecting the location of an air leak from one of the station's modules.

Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko, also a cosmonaut, began his day collecting and analyzing blood and saliva samples for an ongoing Russian experiment.

Romanenko, along with Marshburn and Hadfield, also had time set aside for crew orientation to become accustomed to living and working aboard the orbiting complex during their first two weeks on orbit. The trio arrived in their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft on Dec. 21 to begin a five month stay aboard the complex.

Back on Earth, flight controllers were preparing for a possible Debris Avoidance Maneuver (DAM) to keep the station clear of a conjunction with a piece of debris from an Indian PSLV satellite, but new tracking data Wednesday afternoon provided confidence that the maneuver was not necessary. Flight Director Bob Dempsey told his team and his Russian counterparts to stand down from any further planning.


Related Links
Station at NASA
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Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com

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Station Crew Ringing in New Year
Houston TX (SPX) Dec 30, 2012
The six Expedition 34 crew members aboard the International Space Station are seeing out the old year and ringing in the new one as they orbit 260 miles above the Earth. Their home in space marked a number of milestones in 2012 and is poised for a new year filled with more cutting-edge research, an increase in commercial resupply activity and continued international cooperation. Because th ... read more

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