Monday, March 24, 2014

ISS Expedition 40/41 crew prepare for their mission

The crew members of Expedition 40/41 pose in front of a Soyuz spacecraft simulator in Star City, Russia. From left, Alex Gerst (European Space Agency), Max Suraev (Roscosmos) and Reid Wiseman (NASA). 

Credit: NASA

European Space Agency astronaut Alex Gerst during training prior to Expedition 40/41 in 2014. 

Credit: European Space Agency

The crew (who lifts off in May) will have an action-packed mission.

It will include the arrival of the last Automated Transfer Vehicle, Georges Lemaître (ATV-5) and, if fixes on a NASA spacesuit leak allows, two American maintenance spacewalks.

There also are 162 experiments to perform (this according to Gerst) and if there's time, checking out our home planet.

"Earth observation was not one of the primary goals that [station] was designed for," he cautioned in a phone interview, but he added that one of its strengths is there are people on board the orbiting laboratory that can fill in the gaps for other missions.

Alex Gerst (who was a volcano researcher before becoming an astronaut) pointed out that if a volcano erupts, a typical Earth satellite would look straight down at it.

ISS Astronauts can swing around in the ESA Cupola attached to Node 3, and get different views quickly, which could allow scientists to measure things such as the volcano plume height.

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