вторник, 12 ноября 2019 г.

Leading the way














ESA - Beyond Mission patch / EVA - Extra Vehicular Activities patch.

Nov. 12, 2019


Four spacewalks in the coming weeks means a lot of prep work. ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is gearing up the first in a series of historic extravehicular activities or EVAs taking place 15 November. He is pictured here creating tape flags that will be used to mark tubes during the spacewalks.

The spacewalks are to service the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer or AMS, a dark matter hunter that is providing researchers with data on cosmic ray particles well beyond its three-year mission.

Installed outside the International Space Station in 2011, the instrument has recorded over 140 billion particles to date along with their mass, velocity, and charge and direction of travel. This data is helping scientists track down and understand the sources of dark matter, an invisible energy that makes up roughly 90% of the universe.

As expected, the harsh environment of space began to wear down the facility. One by one, the cooling pumps keeping a vital detector at a constant temperature began to fail, affecting the data collection.

Plans for spacewalks to upgrade the pumps have been in the making for years to keep the science going.

Never intended to be serviced in orbit, the AMS maintenance will be complex.

For starters, AMS-02 has over 300,000 data channels. There are also no handrails or foot restraints installed around the instrument to access the cooling system that needs maintenance. New tools are also needed, as astronauts have never cut and reconnected fluid lines in a bulky spacesuit before.

Luca trained well in advance for these spacewalks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA. New tools and procedures were extensively tested, with a lot of know-how drawn from the last series of complex spacewalks to extend the life of a valuable space instrument, the Hubble Space telescope.


Image above: This picture, taken by NASA astronaut Ron Garan during a spacewalk on July 12, 2011, shows the International Space Station with space shuttle Atlantis docked at the edge of the frame on the far right and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked to Pirs, below the sun. In the foreground is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) experiment installed during the STS-134 mission. AMS is a state-of-the-art particle physics detector designed to use the unique environment of space to advance knowledge of the universe and lead to the understanding of the universe's origin by searching for antimatter and dark matter, and measuring cosmic rays. Image Credits: NASA/Ron Garan.

Now that the latest Cygnus cargo supply mission has brought the final tools needed, Luca and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan are ready to go.

Luca will play a leading role as EV-1, wearing a white spacesuit with red stripes while Andrew wears the white spacesuit with no stripes. It is the first time a European astronaut has held the lead position.

The pair will be supported by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir who will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm from inside the Station. This will help position the astronauts around their hard-to-reach work site, located on top of the Station’s S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators.

The entire spacewalk is expected to take around six hours and it will set the scene for at least three more.

The spacewalk will be streamed live on ESA Web TV from 12:50 CET (11:50 GMT) and ESA’s Facebook page. The first two hours of the broadcast will feature commentary from astronaut and operation experts at ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany, as well as a live cross with scientists at the CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics.

Related article:

Luca to lead most challenging spacewalks since Hubble repairs
https://orbiterchspacenews.blogspot.com/2019/11/luca-to-lead-most-challenging.html

Related links:

ESA Web TV: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/ESA_Web_TV

NASA TV: https://www.nasa.gov/live

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS): https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/International_Space_Station/AMS_ready_to_discover_the_particle_universe

Human Spaceflight: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Directorates/Human_Spaceflight/

International Space Station (ISS): https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

Images, Text, Credits: ESA/NASA.

Best regards, Orbiter.ch

* This article was originally published here

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