Written by Melissa Kacena
What has happened since the launch on July 25? Here is the answer: a lot!
Immediately after the launch, our team celebrated at a local hang-out, appropriately named, “Shuttles.” We had a nice dinner where certificates were distributed and where trivia questions were answered for prizes. Our mission patch was also distributed to team members.
On Friday morning, the team woke up early, checked out of our hotel before 6 am and returned to Kennedy Space Center to clean up and close down the science lab. Everyone helped to complete tasks by 10 am so that the students could start the long drive back to Indianapolis. The remainder of the team at Kennedy Space Center finalized tasks and had an 11 am team meeting to see where things stand and determine how to proceed with ground control tasks.
Although this was discussed many times in the past and previously determined that no one from IU needed to remain onsite during the mission, it became clear that someone who could make real-time decisions for the science needed to be present. This really meant that I should stay in Florida; but because I already had a 3 pm flight booked for Friday, I returned to Indianapolis for just a couple of days. This allowed me to catch up with the IU folks on Monday before returning to Cape Canaveral early Tuesday morning.
I will remain in Florida until the crew completes the procedures on our studies and the corresponding Earth-based ground controls are finalized. Then we wait for the specimens to be shipped to IU and the Army for processing and analyzing. These activities will take significant time — about a year in total. At that time, we can prepare manuscripts for publication and prepare our data for presentation at scientific meetings.
The rest of the team did not get a break either. They were all at work on Monday and jumped right back into the other ongoing activities. In fact, while we were gone, the students gave remote presentations for their summer research programs (which we completed posters and practiced their presentations while we were in Florida) and they are preparing for a conference in Chicago in mid-August. This is the typical busy life of academics!