NASA astronauts will help ring in 2014 by sending greetings from space and from Earth to the crowd gathered in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
Astronaut Mike Massimino will participate in the New Year’s Eve Countdown event on Tuesday evening,Dec. 31. He also will introduce a video greeting from Expedition 36 flight engineer Karen Nyberg, who returned from the International Space Station in November, and from three of the astronauts currently on board the space station: NASA’s Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins, and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The New Year’s countdown will be shown from 6 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. EST on the Toshiba Vision screen atop One Times Square, right below the New Year countdown ball. Eddie Temistokle, senior manager of corporate communications and corporate social responsibility for Toshiba America Inc., will welcome Massimino to the stage at 9:47 p.m.
Mastracchio, Hopkins and Wakata are part of a six-member crew currently on the orbiting laboratory, along with Oleg Kotov, Mikhail Tyurin and Sergey Ryazanski of the Russian Federal Space Agency.
The six-member Expedition 38 crew is getting ready for another eventful year of scientific research, finishing up 2013 with medical research activities. Both NASA and Russian spacewalkers also are cleaning up after three fast-paced spacewalks.
With one exception, all station systems are powered up and running normally following two spacewalks by NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins to replace a degraded cooling system pump module. The new pump module is working well, which allows electrical systems cooled by that loop to be put back into full service. The last string of power to the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory is scheduled to be brought back on line Tuesday.
Hopkins started his day working in the Human Research Facility (HRF) and collecting biological samples for stowage inside a science freezer. In the afternoon he used the HRF’s space linear acceleration mass measurement device (SLAMMD) to calculate his body mass. SLAMMD subjects a crew member to a known force and the resulting acceleration provides a body mass measurement that is accurate to within a half-pound.
Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata also joined Hopkins for SLAMMD measurements in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, Wakata set up gear for the SPRINT study that evaluates the use of high-intensity, low-volume exercise to minimize muscle and bone loss and heart shrinkage during long-duration space missions. He also checked instrumentation inside the Combustion Integrated Rack used for experiments involving flames and flame suppression.
Mastracchio partnered with Hopkins in the morning for spinal scans using the Ultrasound 2 probe and software. The scans were conducted with assistance from ground doctors who were viewing the session in real-time. Throughout the day, Mastracchio worked various maintenance tasks such as sampling the station’s water for analysis, changing out a flash disc on a camera and removing a jumper cable in the Unity node.
Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Sergey Ryazanskiy are cleaning up after a Friday spacewalk that lasted 8 hours and 7 minutes. They started Monday stowing their spacewalk tools and checking them into the inventory management system. Afterward, they returned the Zvezda service module and the Pirs docking compartment to their normal post-spacewalk configuration. Flight Engineer and veteran cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin installed a dosimeter to detect radiation. He also connected cables on water tanks and checked fans inside Zvezda.
Prominently positioned below the world-famous Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball, the dual LED screens will allow revelers in Times Square to see this special greeting from space.
Several NASA events have been broadcast in Times Square, including the Curiosity rover landing on Mars, which drew thousands of viewers, and the launches of two other spacecraft.