Thursday, June 11, 2009

IRIS: Image Reversal in Space

Stowed upon Space Shuttle Endeavor is one of many experiments that I actually had some part in.

While I was in Barcelona, Spain last summer attending the International Space University, we worked with Canadian Space Agency, Astronaut Robert Thirsk (far left in the photo) on an experiment that will be taken up to the International Space Station by the crew of Space Shuttle Endeavor. Dr. Thirsk already made it to the ISS on a Soyuz late last month along with ESA Astronaut Franke De Winne and Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko. They are part of the ISS Expedition 20/21.

The experiment is called IRIS, which stands for Image Reversal In Space, and is an educational payload that was designed, tested, implemented, and analyzed entirely by students of the International Space University. IRIS will investigate whether the perception of three-dimensional ambiguous figures is affected when the observer is in a reduced gravity environment.

If you’ve ever wondered what experiments the astronauts will do once they dock to the ISS or what they’re taking up there…you definitely have to check out the STS-127 press kit. IRIS is mentioned on page 92 of .pdf file.

Only 2 days til launch and now there is only a 10% chance of weather prohibiting launch!!!


heroineworshipper said...

That's extreme manliness on the space station. At least no heroines R experiencing the permanent bone & muscle loss that comes with a space station tour.

takara said...

my name is takara and im 15. i want to become a pilot and travel into space. i was wondering, do you want to become a mission specialist or a pilot?
and also if you are becoming a pilot, are people able to join the air force to get the pilot-in-command hours? idk if you know or not but thanks anyway =)
and if you can email me back my email is

thankyou ^^

Christopher Lusardi said...

Since you're discussing something about experiments, I have an experiment for you. I know it has been answered before, but I was wondering if someone in your audience could answer it directly here. It's not really an experiment, but it does involve testing. I, basically, want to be reassured that nothing is wrong with the entire space program on Earth.

The question is an environmental safety question. NASA has been sending things into space for many decades from the KSC. My question is what environmental problems do all these rocket exhaust clouds cause. In other words, how bad is the air around the various launch pads. What is this exhaust plum called in the first place. Do different rockets add different things to the air around KSC. What medical conditions do people suffer from. Are these medical conditions caused by the exhaust plums etc. What are the various safety radii around the various launch pads. Is there more than one. How many launch pads are there. When were each of these used last. Are there other concerns besides the exhaust plums? What does NASA do to clean the air. What groups are involved with investigating this and what groups should I avoid. I.E.:Does NASA have people attacking them because of health issues. Have there been people with signs protesting around KSC!

What is NASA not doing, and how much more would extra safety measures cost.

In summary, if I were to go to work or visit KSC how bad is the air quality? What about the other NASA centers.

Is there an Internet web page that I could go to in order to answer these questions.

Anonymous said...

Lusardi, I propose a grant be established to fund your own in-person analysis of exhaust effects. The best way to gather such data, obviously, is for you to be physically present within a 1-mile radius of the next Shuttle launch and to attempt to ingest as much of the exhaust as physically possible. What a marvelous experiment! Or, alternatively, use this newfangled thing called an "internet search engine" to look up the propellants and their properties and use that gargantuan noggin of yours to figure it out. That, of course, sounds boring, so I still fully support the Lusardi Experiment. In fact, I would take a sign and wave it violently in front of the White House to protest if you were not allowed to conduct this crucial research.

Anonymous said...


I don't know exactly how to answer that question other than saying that there is a myriad of nasty chemicals used on center. They test the water regularly and have chemical contents posted all around the water fountains.

The stuff that comes out of those nozzles is clearly not great for you. I don't think that "astronaut" is something commonly found on carbon footprint calcs. A little bit of google searching should probably allay most of your fears. There are not too many mutant fish washing ashore in Cape Canaveral.

I however, commend your attentive nature and desire to learn about the whole system. Please let us know what you find!

Anonymous said...

1)Mostly water vapor:

2)Ozone layer:

Although Shuttle main engines are relatively clean burning, Solid rocket
motor (SRM) exhaust contains chlorine, an important stratospheric
constituent that plays a crucial role in the chemistry of ozone. Models
suggest that a significant fraction of SRM exhaust chlorine might be in
an active form as a result of afterburning reactions and be available
for ozone destruction as the exhaust mixes with the ambient
stratosphere. If afterburning does produce free chlorine, the SRMs used
by the Space Shuttle have the potential to cause nearly complete ozone
loss in regions up to several tens of kilometers in radius, depending on
The Shuttle is the largest of the solid fuel rockets, with twin 45 meter
boosters. All solid fuel rockets release large amounts of hydrochloric
acid in their exhaust, each Shuttle flight injecting about 75 tons of
ozone destroying chlorine into the stratosphere. Those launched since
1992 inject even more ozone-destroying chlorine, about 187 tons, into
the stratosphere (which contains the ozone layer).


Anonymous said...

To add insult to injury

Anonymous said...

The only smoking gun that I can find:

Movie About Mysterious Clouds That Need Attention:

Anonymous said...

If anybody is interested here's a quote from Space Today:

Each time a space shuttle blasts off from Cape Canaveral, tons of toxic exhaust from the solid-fuel boosters, including 124,000 lbs. of aluminum oxide, blanket waterways, mangrove and cypress trees, and soil around the launch pads. The most dangerous compounds in shuttle exhaust are chlorine and hydrogen chloride. The acid pollutants seem to disappear three days after a launch and the waterways and soil around the launch pad gradually return to normal, but the acid kills up to 10,000 fish per launch.

Anonymous said...

Chlorine factor:

Disturbing but enlightening picture of a bird on top of rocket blasting off:

Christopher Lusardi said...

If I were to do tests to investigate the environmental effects due to the shuttle launchs I would test the soil, rocks, air, and plant life for the next 4 or 5 years etc.

I would make tests every month near the same place of last testing. A few inchs away!

This would require making multible tests each weekend, one day a month.

Next, I have to determine my instrumentation. For example, would testing PH level be enough or could I do other more important tests economically. How would I do the PH testing. Would NASA allow anyone to do this in the first place.

Anyway, each month I would make my walk and test.

Sadly, I live too far away to make this experiment a reality.

It's a children's experiment in the first place. A scout troup, school, or teacher can have it if they want.

The experiment is up for grabs, but I wish anyone who tries it the best. Maybe the person or group can get on the NASA channel in a few years with this exciting data.

Anonymous said...

takara, the current plan is that there will only be mission specialists in a few years. Also, pilots spend almost their entire lives flying without doing anything else.

The entire space program will grow and grow, so there will probably be hundreds of people in space at the same time.

Christopher Lusardi said...

Damaris, the ISS commentary NASA channel TV show for Thursday 6/18/09 said Bob Thirsk was working on the "3D Space Experiment".

That experiment studies how micro gravity in space affects human perception. Basically, it tests the tester's perception of where he is within the space craft, his distance perception, illusion, and it involves writing activities.

In addition, in a different 5 minute segment, Bob was shown talking about another similar experiment he was doing. It was from New York University. In this experiment, a laptop computer was used, and it came with an advanced vision system. It was also displayed and talked about. (Bob showed a large card and said he studied how a "d" can become a "p".) This experiment was called the Bodies in Space environment experiment.

Christopher Lusardi said...

Think of the possibilities ob Robert Thirsk's experiments. What if no one will ever repeat his experiments. And, his work will become the foundation of much of important space science. Years from now we may look back at certain parts of the space program and say it originated from Thirsk and no one else. This is possible because of the great financial burden apon space travelers. Once a solution (snow ball) gets rolling it will build up momentum and can't be stopped. So, Thirsk's work is important for this reason. Once man goes to space in large numbers they will rely heavily on past work made by scientists. If mistakes are made and the foundation is made incorrectly it could take years to find the mistakes and correct them.