(Highlights: Final Weeks of July 2011) -- Students from 59 schools all around the world participated in the summer session of the Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (EarthKAM). 2,675 students used the onboard EarthKAM camera to take 1,758 Earth observation photos. EarthKAM is a NASA education program that offers a powerful way for students to investigate Earth from the unique perspective of space. The image collection is posted on the Internet for both public use and participating classrooms around the world.
Crew members opened the European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) gas valves for the Plant Signaling experiment run, which studies the effects of microgravity on plant growth. The NASA experiment is performed in collaboration with the European Space Agency. Images of the plants are captured and down-linked to Earth, while samples of the plants are harvested and returned to Earth for scientific analysis. The results of this experiment could lead to information that will aid in food production for future long duration space missions, and data to enhance crop production on Earth.
Astronaut Ron Garan began his two-week diet logging for the European Space Agency's Sodium Loading in Microgravity (SOLO) experiment. Microgravity leads to an activation of sodium retaining hormones, which in turn worsens the breakdown of bone. SOLO studies the mechanisms of fluid and salt retention in the body during spaceflight by monitoring nutrient intake, collecting urine, measuring body mass and collecting blood.
For the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Mycological Evaluation of Crew Exposure to ISS Ambient Air (Myco), crew members performed body sample collection sessions and put the samples in the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI). Myco evaluates the risk of microorganisms' via inhalation and adhesion to the skin to determine which fungi act as allergens on the space station.
Vic Cooley, Lead Increment Scientist Expedition 27/28