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 From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

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: Safe glide at total engine failure with ELA-inside

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded after a glide flight with an Airbus A320 in ditching on the Hudson River. All 155 people on board were saved.

On January 15, 2009, Chesley B. Sullenberger was celebrated world-wide: after the two engines had failed due to bird strike, he and his flight crew succeeded...

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New pop-up strategy inspired by cuts, not folds

27.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Sandia uses confined nanoparticles to improve hydrogen storage materials performance

27.02.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

Decoding the genome's cryptic language

27.02.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>