Human, Physics Research as U.S. Spaceship Preps for Departure

Anne McClain of NASA
Anne McClain of NASA looks at a laptop computer screen inside the U.S. Destiny laboratory module during ground conference operations.

The Expedition 58 crew participated in a suite of psychological, biomedical and physics experiments today. The orbital residents are also getting ready to send off a U.S. cargo craft on Friday.

Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques collaborated today on an experiment that observes how living in a spacecraft for long periods impacts crew behavior. The duo typed personal impressions about working in space in a private journal then took a robotics test to measure cognition. The astronauts also answered a questionnaire to gather more cognitive data before going to sleep.

McClain also collected and stored biological samples for a pair of human research studies looking at physiological changesand negative effects on bone marrow and blood cells. Saint-Jacques looked at how fluid mechanics affects fuel tanks in spaceships and ocean systems on Earth.

Commander Oleg Kononenko focused his day inside the station’s Russian segment. The veteran cosmonaut worked on computers, maintained life support systems and photographed Earth landmarks today.

Friday at 11:10 a.m. EST, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus space freighter will depart the station after 81 days attached to the Unity module. Robotics controllers will remotely guide the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple Cygnus overnight. McClain will then command the Canadarm2 on Friday to release Cygnus back into Earth orbit as Saint-Jacques backs her up and monitors the activities.

Cygnus has more to do after its release. It will begin to deploy several sets of CubeSats after it reaches a safe distance from the space station. The U.S. resupply ship will then reenter Earth’s atmosphere in late February over a remote portion of the Pacific Ocean for a fiery but safe destruction.

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