NASA'S Shuttle Atlantis Bringing A New "Dawn" For Space Station Science

WASHINGTON -- NASA's space shuttle Atlantis is delivering science
experiments and a new Russian laboratory to the International Space
Station, continuing the transition from station assembly to
continuous scientific research through the end of the decade.

The Russian-built Mini Research Module-1, also known as Rassvet (dawn
in Russian), will host a variety of biotechnology, biological
science, fluid physics and educational research experiments. Rassvet
was attached Tuesday morning to the bottom port of the station's
Zarya module.

The shuttle crew will conduct nine short-duration experiments during
the STS-132 mission and return samples from 16 space station
experiments. They will help enable nearly 130 long-duration station
experiments in biology, physical and materials sciences, technology
development, Earth and space science.

"The Mini Research Module-1 provides important new real estate for
experiments to be conducted on the space station and will be a
cornerstone of Russian laboratory facilities for years to come," said
Julie Robinson, International Space Station program scientist at
NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This new module enhances the
station's research capabilities and enables new investigations to be

The laboratory contains a pressurized compartment with eight
workstations equipped with facilities such as a glove box to keep
experiments separated from the in-cabin environment; two incubators
to accommodate high- and low-temperature experiments and a vibration
isolation platform to protect payloads and experiments. It also will
be used for cargo storage.

The module contains four other workstations, complete with mechanical
adapters, to install payloads into roll-out racks and shelves. On its
exterior, Rassvet will piggy-back an experiment airlock destined for
use outside the final Russian module, named the Multipurpose
Laboratory Module, which is planned for launch in 2012.

The 2005 NASA Authorization Act designated a portion of the station as
a National Laboratory, accessible to other government agencies,
commercial entities and academic researchers.

Among the studies the STS-132 astronauts will conduct is the ninth in
a series of U.S. National Laboratory Pathfinder experiments aimed at
developing vaccines to fight disease-causing bacteria. The commercial
payload will study how several different pathogenic organisms react
to the microgravity environment. Previous similar experiments led to
development of a potential vaccine for Salmonella bacteria that cause
food poisoning. Approval from the Food and Drug Administration is
being sought for this as an investigational new drug.

Another commercial National Lab pathfinder, Cells-4, will examine
cellular replication to determine the use of spaceflight to enhance
or improve cellular growth processes used in ground-based research.
The shuttle astronauts also will participate in a first-of-its-kind
Canadian experiment called Hypersole that aims to determine how the
sensitivity of the sole of the foot affects balance control.

The shuttle crew delivered 10 experiments to the space station. These
include: Genara-A, a European experiment that looks at how plants
grow without gravity; Ferulate, a Japanese experiment to study the
strength of cell walls in microgravity; Cube Lab, a low-cost, 1
kilogram platform for commercial and educational projects; an
experiment that studies the properties of colloids, which are tiny
solid particles suspended in liquid, in microgravity; and the Smoke
and Aerosol Measurement experiment, which is a follow-on
investigation to previous tests of smoke detection technology.

Several experiments will return to Earth aboard Atlantis. Among these
are an European Space Agency experiment that will document the nature
and distribution of radiation inside the station and create a method
to measure absorption rates in biological samples; the first samples
of ceramic glasses produced in Space Dynamically Responding
Ultrasonic Matrix System, or SpaceDRUMS, which enables samples of
materials to be processed without ever touching a container wall;
samples of pharmaceutical quality intravenous fluid produced for the
first time in space; and the Canadian Space Agency's Advanced Plant
Experiment-CSA2, which compares the genes and tissue of white spruce
(Picea glauca) grown in space with those grown on Earth to help
forestry researchers understand the influence of gravity on plant
physiology, growth and wood formation.

For more information about the science performed aboard the
International Space Station, visit:


For more information about the STS-132 mission, visit:


Source: NASA

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