Former ISS crew member Nicole Stott, now an official Atlantis crew member, celebrated her 47th birthday today. Nicole has been on board the station since August and wil be the last ever ISS crew member to use a Shuttle for transport off the station, as the Shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired toward the end of 2010.
So, is it just a space station-ey stuff mission?
Actually no! One unusual experiment being flown on STS-129 will utilize the unique microgravity environment of the International Space Station as part of the regular classroom to allow students to examine the complete life cycle of the Painted Lady and Monarch butterflies. Two containers of the caterpillars, one on Earth and one flown on Atlantis, will be observed to study how the butterflies cope with the different gravity environments as they hatch.
Caterpillars enjoying microgravity
NASA TV is catching up with its YouTube videos, releasing both Flight Day 2 and Flight Day 3 highlights today complete with HD options for that higher bandwidth perusal experience.
Images credit: NASA TV