On Wednesday, February 22 the Experiment Sequence Test (EST) of the Echo experiment was carried out at the French user operations centre Cadmos. The EST is the ultimate rehearsal before an astronaut takes over control of the operations.
In space, nothing is left to chance and everything must be operational for the day itself. For the EST, a volunteer plays the role of the astronaut. The goal is to check that everything is working as expected. The ground team and the volunteer therefore go through the written procedure in advance. Before his departure, Thomas Pesquet also carried out this extremely precise procedure to ensure that everything was clear.
Echo is a new tele-operated ultrasound system with a probe whose movements, however little, are operated from the ground by an expert and no longer by the astronaut himself. As part of the operations, the control room works with the International Space Station whose commands are sent from Earth. For the EST, the on-board operations are tested in the labs – leaving some distance from the two control room. But Echo works just as well a few meters away as it does from a distance of several hundred kilometers!
In these photos you can see:
1 – The experiment lead
He/She accompanies the experiment from its development until its realisation as well as the collection of its data.
2 – The “PI” (Principal Investigator)
He/She directs the entire scientific part. This person is part of a research laboratory and works in close collaboration with the CADMOS engineers.
3 – Operators
They are certified engineers who follow the actual operations and provide support to the astronaut if needed.
4 – The manager of the ground segment
He/She ensures that all computer networks are functioning properly.
5 – The volunteer in the role of the astronaut
– In orange, the on-board ultrasound and the ultrasound that is transmitted in real time on a simple computer on the ground.
– In yellow, the motorised tele-operated probe on the edge and the dummy probe handled by the expert on the ground side
– In green, the helmets and microphones that enable the communication with the volunteer-astronaut and give him precise indications on the placement of the probe. Even during the rehearsal with the French stand-in for Thomas, instructions are given in English.
– In blue, the procedure drafted by the CADMOS team in charge of Echo. It is unrolled step by step by the astronaut and followed by the operators.
The EST of Echo confirmed that all is ready. In a few days, the same ground team will be able to carry out the real operations, this time with Thomas Pesquet as the subject.