Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists rehearse for Foton mission

02.03.2007
Over 60 scientists and technicians have taken up temporary residence in ESA's brand new microgravity science laboratory, where, for the coming days, they will rehearse procedures to prepare experiments for the Foton M3 mission later this year.

Scheduled for launch on 14 September 2007 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, the unmanned Foton M3 mission will carry 35 ESA experiments in life and physical sciences. The Foton capsule will spend 12 days orbiting the Earth, exposing the experiments to microgravity, and in the case of some experiments, to the harsh environment of open space, before re-entering the atmosphere and landing in the border zone between Russia and the Kazakhstan.

The science teams behind the mission's biology experiments are currently gathered at ESTEC, ESA's research and technology centre, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, to practice the preparation of their samples and flight hardware - an important part of the time-critical countdown to launch.

Punctual departure

The simulation - known as the ‘Science Verification Test’ - will exactly follow the timeline planned for the real flight in September. Counting back from the launch, which is expected on the afternoon of Friday 14 September, the ground crew in Baikonur will have precisely 24 hours a couple of days before the launch (from T-72h to T-48h) in which to install the payloads in the Foton capsule.

"To reach Baikonur in time for installation in the Foton capsule all the experiment containers will have to leave Noordwijk no later than 2 am on Monday 10 September," explains René Demets, ESA project biologist. A truck will take 2-tonnes of cargo directly from ESTEC to Rotterdam Airport. From there a chartered aircraft will fly the experiments to Samara, in Russia. After customs clearance and refuelling, the journey will continue to the remote launch site in Baikonur.

“For biology experiments the samples need to be prepared as late as possible,” adds Demets. “By gathering the scientists at ESTEC there will be five days between sample preparation and launch, giving the scientists the latest possible access to their experiments. It means that the teams will have to work day and night over the weekend to prepare their cell cultures and be ready and packed for a punctual departure early on the Monday morning."

Corrective action

Running through those procedures ahead of time gives the teams a chance to iron out any problems before the procedures are done for real in the autumn. Any mistakes or problems could put an experiment in jeopardy.

"What we might do wrong in the preparation stage can lead an experiment to fail," says Michel Lazerges, ESA project manager for the eEristo/eOsteo experiment, which investigates the influence of microgravity on bone cell biology. "By testing and verifying everything in advance we push uncertainty to the last. If anything shows up during the rehearsal, we can take corrective action and make sure we have it right for the flight."

For the same reason, as in September when there will be no room for errors, the simulation will continue when the rest of ESTEC has closed down for the weekend. "We want to test the infrastructure fully," says Demets. "We need to know that we can work under these circumstances. How, for example, will we feed all these people during the weekend when the ESTEC canteen is not available?"

New laboratory

For Peter Schiller, manager of the microgravity science laboratory, this is also an exciting time. The Foton dress rehearsal will be the first wide-scale use of the brand new facility. "For us this is a chance to check out the new lab and to make sure that it fulfils its functions," explains Schiller.

After completion of the Science Verification Test, the next major milestone for the Foton M3 mission will be the Mission Simulation Test due to take place at ESTEC in April. During this test the system used to remotely control and monitor the experiments during the mission will be put through its paces.

Piero Messina | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/esaHS/SEMUGCN0LYE_index_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

nachricht Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>