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STS-107 SCIENCE DATA CONCLUSIONS



Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Dolores Beasley
Headquarters, Washington                     Feb. 19, 2003
(Phone: 202/358-1753)
 
RELEASE: 03-074
 
UPDATE: ASSESSMENT OF SCIENCE DATA GAINED DURING COLUMBIA'S 
MISSION
 
     NASA scientists are continuing to assess the status of 
the data received by the experiments onboard Space Shuttle 
Columbia (STS-107) during its final mission. Columbia carried 
more than 80 experiments, science, commercial and student, on 
a 16-day mission devoted to research, entrepreneurship and 
education.
 
"For those experiments that received down-linked data during 
the mission, we estimate that anywhere between 50-90 percent 
of the data was acquired," said David Liskowsky, STS-107 
Program Scientist for NASA's Office of Biological and 
Physical Research (OBPR). Most of these experiments were in 
the physical science disciplines of combustion research, 
material sciences, and fluid physics. For most of the life 
sciences experiments, data and specimens were to be recovered 
on landing, so no data is available.
 
The OBPR science project teams report the overall performance 
of the experimental hardware and equipment employed on the 
mission was highly successful, with 100 percent operational 
success being achieved for virtually all of the experiments. 
"In addition to the scientific data that was collected from 
the mission, this operational success provides a measure of 
the robustness and capability of conducting high quality 
research on the Shuttle," Liskowsky said.
 
During the past week, researchers determined:
 
?        The Mechanics of Granular Materials (MGM) investigators 
estimate that careful analysis of the downlinked data 
should result in achieving 50 to 60 percent of their 
science goals. The MGM experiment used the microgravity 
of orbit to test sand columns under conditions that 
cannot be obtained from experiments on Earth. The 
knowledge gained from this will be applied to improving 
foundations for buildings and increasing understanding 
of how earthquakes and other forces disturb grains of 
soil and sand.
?        Almost all of the data from Critical Viscosity of 
Xenon, an experiment sponsored by the National 
Institute of Standards and Technology, was acquired 
before the end of the mission. This experiment measured 
the changes in viscosity (resistance to flow) of xenon, 
a pure fluid with a very simple structure and a 
critical temperature just below room temperature. The 
data may help scientists better understand shear 
thinning in complex fluids such as paints and foods 
(e.g., whipped cream), which need to flow easily during 
application and stand firm afterwards.
 
?        STARNAV, a star tracker navigation system from Texas 
A&M University accomplished all of its objectives. This 
educational experiment was designed to determine 
precise spacecraft attitude without prior knowledge of 
position.
 
?        SPACEHAB's Space Media commercial payload, STARS, saw 
many amazing results on this mission. As part of an 
education program with experiments designed by 
students, the STARS payload (www.starsprogram.com) 
received daily downlink of video, photos, humidity and 
temperature readings. Students from Australia, China, 
Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, and the United States 
designed these six experiments. They were able to 
achieve approximately 70 percent of their scientific 
objectives, providing unique insight into the low 
gravity impact on the behavior and development of ants, 
bees, silkworms, and fish eggs, the random crystal 
growth of cobalt and calcium, and the web spinning 
ability of spiders.
 
?        The Solar Constant Experiment (SOLCON), managed by the 
Royal Meteorological Institute of Belgium and sponsored 
by NASA, was designed to measure the solar constant and 
identify variations in the value during a solar cycle. 
This experiment was a 100 percent success. The data 
will ensure continuity of the solar constant level 
obtained by instruments mounted on free flyers, over 
climate time scale duration.
 
?        The Low Power Transceiver (LPT) experiments were 
completed and 100 percent of the data collected. These 
experiments demonstrated LPT's ability to do 
simultaneous communications and on-board navigation in 
space. The data from this experiment may provide more 
cost-effective space operations in future satellites
 
?        The Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX) 
acquired an image of a pall of gray smoke hanging above 
the Amazon rainforest illustrating how complex 
interactions between smoke and the atmosphere can 
influence weather and climate.
 
The final results from these and other experiments will be 
determined in the coming months as the acquired data are 
analyzed. More information about the research performed by 
the Columbia crew is available on the Internet at:
 
http://spaceresearch.nasa.gov
 

 
 

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