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First phase of Shuttle-Mir science harvest to be discussed

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First phase of Shuttle-Mir science harvest to be discussed

Interim science results symposium planned

November 3, 1998: Preliminary results from the last year of American activities aboard the space station will be reviewed at a three-day conference in Huntsville this week. But it's not the last word on what was achieved up there.

Right: An astronaut deploys a Passive Optical Sample Array (POSA) outside Mir. The samples are coated or eroded by the space environment. results from this experiment will help in designing coatings for future spacecraft.

"This is the third interim results symposium we've held to review science from the Shuttle-Mir program," said Dr. Roger Kroes of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. The first symposium was held at Johnson Space Center in August 1997. The second symposium was held at the Ames Research Center in March 1998. These focused on activities in Increments 2 through 5 of U.S. activities aboard Mir. Next month's symposium will cover Increments 6 and 7. These span the occupancy by astronauts Dave Wolf (September 1997-January 1998) and Andrew Thomas (January-May 1998).

"Each of these conferences has truly been interim because the scientists haven't had time for a thorough analysis of their results," Kroes said. "But it gives us a midterm review of what's been done and the science that's emerging."

The symposium is divided into 11 major sessions: human life sciences, space biology, vehicle dynamics, external environment, Earth sciences, crew health, environmental monitoring, biotechnology, combustion science, materials sciences, and radiation. About a third of the symposium will be devoted to materials sciences and biotechnology, one of the biggest science users of a space station.

Among the speakers will be Dr. Neal Pellis, project scientist for the highly promising Space Bioreactor program. The Bioreactor grows tissue cultures in a rotating wall vessel that ensures proper oxygenation and nutrition for the specimens. Under these conditions, the cells often grow into assemblies that closely resemble normal growth on Earth, thus opening a new tool for the study of tumor development or the growth of replacement tissues.

Left: Astronaut John Blaha services the Bioreactor, one of many biotechnology experiments conducted aboard Mir.

Also to be covered are the results from several protein crystal growth (PCG) experiments. PCG allows scientists to grow proteins as highly refined crystals. Analysis on Earth then yield much finer data on the structure, thus helping scientists in designing drugs targeted for specific disease and disease effects.

Kroes, who will chair the microgravity sciences session and act host for the conference, said that about 60 U.S., Russian, and Canadian scientists are expected to attend. Astronauts Thomas and Wolf are tentatively scheduled as guest speakers.

Right: A view of Mir from a docked U.S. Space Shuttle.

For additional information, check the symposium web site. And check back here for daily stories.

Web Links

Shuttle-Mir research Including space biology, materials sciences, and other fields.

Shuttle-Mir Increment 6 and Increment 7 activities and science described.

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More Space Science Headlines - NASA research on the web

Microgravity Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center

Life and Microgravity programmatic information from NASA headquarters.


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Author: Dave Dooling
Curator: Bryan Walls
NASA Official: John M. Horack