Monday, April 20, 2009
A new camera designed to take detailed observations of the climate on earth to assist farmers and ranchers was activated today, along with work on several experiments and the testing of recycled water made for a full day aboard the orbiting international space station.
Known as the Agriculture Camera or AgCam, it will be mainly operated by the students and faculty at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. AgCam, according to the Johnson Space Center, "will take visible light and infrared images of the Earth, principally of growing crops, rangeland, grasslands, forests, and wetlands in the northern Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions of the United States".
The current Expedition 19 crew of Commander Gennady Padalka, Mike Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata also spent today performing trash stowing and each crew member worked with a specific experiment. Wakata also tested water samples from the Water Recovery System, as NASA prepares the station to begin recycling its own water. Water recycling will assist the station in supporting a full time crew of six beginning May 29th.
Currently docked with the station is the Russian cargo ship known as Progress 32, Wakata spent today stowing waste materials and trash into the craft. Around May 4th, Progress 32 will undock from station and Russia will send commands to fire its engines for a destructive reentry.
The next space craft to visit the orbital outpost in space will be the Progress 33P, which is set to launch on May 7th and dock two days later.
The next space shuttle flight to station will be Endeavour on mission STS-127 in June, which will see the last piece of the Japanese station segment attached - the experiment platform.