Deeper Exploration into When I'm an Astronaut
Learn more about Space Travel and Astronaut Training from the When I'm an Astronaut picture book images.
By Samantha Pillay
The first animals to orbit the moon and return to Earth were two tortoises aboard the Russian spacecraft, Zond 5 in 1968.
Tortoises have more rounded and domed shells than turtles and spend most of their time on land rather than water.
Each group of NASA Astronaut Candidates are given a nickname. Group 22, seventeen astronauts who started training in 2017, were nicknamed "The Turtles" after the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, soon after they arrived at NASA.
The Space Shuttle (the model on the bookshelf) was a reusable NASA spacecraft. The five space shuttles, Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour, flew 135 missions from 1981 to 2011.
The NASA Artemis missions will land humans (including the first woman) on the Moon and Mars. The Orion Spacecraft (the second model on the bookshelf) consists of a crew transport capsule atop a Space Launch System rocket.
Astrophysics studies the physics behind planets, stars, galaxies and other natural objects in space. Orbital mechanics studies how forces such as gravity influence objects moving in space. Rocket science is the study of launching and propelling rockets.
'It's not rocket science' is an idiom that describes something that is not challenging.
Geology is important for astronauts who identify, collect and analyze samples from planetary missions.
F=ma is Newton's Second Law. The force (F) acting on an object is equal to the object's mass (m) times its acceleration (a).
Ve = Ispg0 The effective exhaust velocity (Ve ) of a rocket is the average velocity of the propellant (burnt fuel).
Isp is the specific impulse in seconds.
g0 is standard gravity, 9.8 m/s2
Δv is the maximum change in velocity of the rocket, ln is the natural logarithm, mi is the initial total mass (including the propellant) and mf is the final mass after the propellant has been burnt.
STEM careers will become even more critical in the future. Yet, the gender gap is wider in STEM than in other industries.
The Orrery on the desk is a mechanical model of the planets around the sun and their orbits. It is named after the fourth Earl of Orrery, Charles Boyle, for whom John Rowley made the first model of the Earth and moon orbiting the sun. Over time, more planets were added to orreries as they were discovered.
Most of an astronaut's training is practicing on Earth every possible scenario they may need to perform in space. Being underwater is like the weightlessness in space. Rather than practicing in a home pool in a swimsuit, NASA astronauts train in a spacesuit in The Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL). The NBL, located near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, is the size of nine Olympic swimming pools. It contains life-size components of the International Space Station (ISS), and astronauts can feel what it's like to move in the cumbersome spacesuit. They couldn't practice wearing the spacesuit on dry land because it weighs about 280 pounds (127 kg) on Earth.
Many Astronauts, selected from thousands of applicants, already have military, flying, and diving experience, although not required. Astronauts do need higher education in STEM subjects and must pass a physical. Astronauts receive survival training in case they land in a remote location on their return to Earth and must survive until rescued. Aquarius is NASA's underwater habitat off Florida, where astronauts can spend up to three weeks at a time.
Military pilots have a call sign, like a nickname, painted on their aircraft.
Samantha Cristoforetti became the first European Space Agency female astronaut, to complete a long-duration space mission on the Futura mission in 2014.
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Astronauts spend most of their time on earth training for space missions. Once a Candidate graduates from training and is listed as Active, they are eligible for flight assignment. Many astronauts have spent most of their life pursuing their dreams before they finally launch into space.
The Orion Spacecraft will take the first man and woman to Mars. Lightning arresters (towers) surround the launch pad and spacecraft to protect them from a lightning strike.
The Capcom, short for Capsule Communicator at Mission Control Center, communicates directly with the crew in space. Teams operate Mission Control 24 hours a day, every day of the year. A successful space mission is the result of years of work by many skilled personnel to see their dreams come true.
Astronauts spend a couple of hours a day exercising in space to prevent muscle and bone loss. They monitor their heart rate and drink recycled water from a bag through a straw. Without gravity, there is no need for a bike seat when pedalling. Sweat doesn't run downwards; instead, needing to be wiped away as it pools.
Despite their excise routine, they are weak when returning to Earth after long missions, needing assistance even to stand and requiring months of training to regain their strength.
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Spacesuits, which keep astronauts alive when performing spacewalks, are different to those worn for launch and landing. The spacewalk suits are also called EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) suits. These suits need to protect the astronaut from extreme temperatures, and radiation, with oxygen and water supply in a pressurized garment with inbuilt cooling and heating. The backpack contains water, oxygen, battery, and other equipment required for the spacesuit functions. Details like red stripes can identify different astronauts and may indicate the Commander or Leader.
Astronauts use safety tethers to attach to the spacecraft on spacewalks. At the International Space Station, they hold onto yellow handles outside the spacecraft (and blue handles inside the spacecraft).
Newton's Third Law is for every action; there is an equal and opposite reaction. A typical high school physics problem is how does an astronaut, who becomes untethered get back to the spacecraft before their oxygen runs out if all they are holding is a wrench? Throwing the wrench into space to push them back towards the spaceship may not be as simple as it sounds, as many factors exist to consider.
Temperature can vary from -250 degrees Fahrenheit in the dark to 250 degrees in the sunlight. The helmet has a gold visor to protect astronauts from the sun's rays. The solar panels on the ISS are gold which is a better conductor and more malleable than the blue and black panels used on Earth. The ISS has eight solar arrays to generate its power.
The Earth's atmosphere can be viewed from space. The layers from the ground up are troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and exosphere. The atmosphere extends to 10,000 km (6,214 miles) above the surface before reaching outer space. The ISS orbits in the thermosphere layer.
Astronauts spend years of training to be able to fix things in space, even the toilet. They must be resourceful to invent solutions for problems that haven't been thought of and utilize whatever is available. They need to work in a weightless environment. Tools need to be secured, so they don't float away; Velcro is often used to attach items to walls or their clothes, and heat-resistant Kapton tape to stick things together.
There are blue handles inside the space station to hold onto, socks are worn (no shoes required) and switches have metal kick guards to prevent accidental knocking as astronauts float about.
The Cupola is a dome-shaped observatory with the best views from the International Space Station. Astronauts onboard the ISS see 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets a day, only lasting a few seconds because they orbit the Earth every 90 minutes.
On the ISS, oxygen is made from the electrolysis of water. Extra oxygen is also regularly sent from Earth in pressurized tanks. Most of Earth's oxygen is produced by phytoplankton and kelp in the oceans. A sustainable oxygen supply will be required for long space missions and missions to Mars. Plant research in space is important to produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from indoor air and as a food source.
Spacesuits for walking and working on planets will have different requirements to those for working in space, on the outside of a spacecraft. NASA is currently developing spacesuits for the Artemis mission to walk on the Moon and Mars, called Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Units (xEMU).
Curiosity is the name of the Mars Rover that landed on Mars, in August 2012. It analyses rock, soil, and air samples to learn about Mars' environment and discover if Mars could have ever supported living organisms.
The surface of Mars is rocky and covered with red dust that strong winds can blow to create dust storms.
Will future space exploration allow us to travel to other galaxies? Artificial gravity would be beneficial to astronauts' health for long space missions. In theory, if this spacecraft was like a multi-level building, accelerating upwards (towards the top of the page) at the downward acceleration of Earth's gravity (9.81 meters per second) then an Astronaut looking out of a side window would feel anchored to the floor on one of the levels.
Space exploration will hopefully create collaboration and unity on Earth, for all humanity to live in peace and conserve our planet's valuable resources