STS-107 MCC Status Report #04
Saturday, January 18, 2003 - 5:00 p.m. CST
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

Space shuttle Columbia's astronauts pointed two Israeli cameras over the Atlantic and the Mediterranean today in search of small dust particles that might impact the weather and began experiments in human life sciences in the third day of the STS-107 scientific research flight.

Red Team members Commander Rick Husband, Mission Specialists Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon were awakened at 4:39 a.m. CST. Following a handover with their Blue Team counterparts, they took over for Pilot Willie McCool and Mission Specialists Dave Brown and Mike Anderson, who began an eight-hour sleep period at 9:39 a.m. CST.

Specific experiment highlights today included:

A radiometric camera and a video camera were aimed at the Atlantic and the Mediterranean as part of the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment. Although no dust was detected due to heavy cloud coverage, initial analysis showed that the two cameras are working well, supplying high-quality images. The cloud patterns imaged by the cameras showed remarkable details. The intent of the experiment is to help researchers better understand how dust particles in the atmosphere affect climate.

An experiment that looks at the movement of calcium through the body to further understanding of bone loss in space began. Astronauts took oral calcium tracers that will be monitored over the course of the mission to examine how calcium metabolism changes in an astronaut's body during spaceflight.

In the physical sciences, the second run of the Mechanics of Granular Materials was completed. The objective of the experiment is to improve and enhance science and technology in many disciplines including earthquake engineering and soil mechanics. Results may lead to answers concerning the consequences of earthquakes, such as damage to soils and foundations.

Shortly after 2 p.m. CST, Red Team members took time out from their experiment schedule to talk with reporters from CNN, CBS News and Fox News Channel. Asked about the importance of the flight to Israel, Ramon commented that he views the mission as an "opening for great science for our nation."

-more-

The Blue Team will be awakened at 5:39 p.m. CST to continue work on the more than 80 experiments aboard Columbia. Scheduled activities include initiation of experiments in the Combustion Module. It will be used to conduct three experiments that examine soot formation, lean combustion and fire suppression.

All systems aboard Columbia continue to function well.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 6 Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit observed a milestone today as they presided over the final run of the Zeolite Crystal Growth experiment in the Destiny Lab. Experiment results may contribute to the technology used to make gasoline, products for the chemical industry and commercial film products.

The Expedition crew conducted a weekly planning conference with flight controllers in Houston and downlinked video of maintenance work performed this past week. Crewmembers have a light schedule of duties this weekend before resuming their full schedule of activities on Monday.

The next STS-107 mission status report will be issued Sunday afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.

-end-

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