Friday, January 22, 2010

NASA astronaut in school

For the month of January, the boys' school is celebrating the 1960s and honouring the space programme. Today, the Guest Speaker Series featured a parent who is a former NASA astronaut. Mark Polansky has been on 3 space missions to the international space station, the most recent one in July last year.

Some interesting anecdotes shared by Polansky, as related to me by the boys:

In space, your leg muscles don't work a lot, so when you get back to earth your muscles feel sore cos they're not used to working anymore. They have to exercise in space 2 hours a day.

If the astronaut stays in space for 2 weeks, it's 2 weeks of being in zero gravity and the human body gets used to floating around, eating in zero gravity etc. When he comes back to earth, if someone offers him a glass of water, he'll let go of the glass cos he is used to the drinking water that floats in the air. He forgets he's back on earth, and the glass of water falls to the ground.

Polansky told them about a recent space flight to the ISS (International Space Station) to replace the solar-powered batteries. The folks inside the station manipulate robot arms that grasp onto the astronauts to take them to the batteries which are located outside the station. The astronauts then get to work to remove and replace the batteries. Although the astronauts have a tether attached to their waists, it still sounds extremely harrowing to me. Imagine if the tether broke off! The astronaut would float away into the darkness of the Milky way!


monlim said...

What a great opportunity! You certainly won't get these exciting guest speakers back here. I can just imagine letting go of the glass, forgetting about gravity. I've always thought it would be fascinating to experience zero gravity, just for a while!

Lilian said...

Just for a while okay. When they stay in zero gravity for just a couple of weeks, they can lose 20% of muscle mass. Cos the antigravity muscles such as the neck muscles don't need to work to support the body. To prevent this muscle loss (known as atrophy), the astronauts have to do intensive exercise! Sounds tough!

Hmmm, actually I would love to be in zero gravity forever, cos then don't need to use muscles ever again, and hence, no need for exercise :)

bACk in GERMANY said...

Wow, zero gravity means no more neck pain for me!!!! Of course it's the weakening of muscles that's giving all the pains too. Sigh!

Boys are really blessed with such a guest speaker.

Lilian said...

Long time no see, PP. Neck pain...mmm...go see Suryani :)