Radio, science and space agriculture

Credits: ESA/NASA

Credits: ESA/NASA

 

This image of ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli shows many aspects of life on the International Space Station. 

Paolo is wearing a headset to communicate with Earth over simple radio waves. He was sending his greetings for the Italian researchers researchers night on 29 September over Ham video. 

The “Amateur Radio on the International Space Station” or ARISS is an initiative to inspire schoolchildren and offer them the chance to ask questions to astronauts in space. Contacts are made regularly as the Space Station flies overhead in line of sight of a radio ground station. The headset Paolo is wearing is the standard radio headset.

ThermoLab temperature sensor. Credits: Charite, ZWMB

ThermoLab temperature sensor. Credits: Charite, ZWMB

As mentioned in the Tweet above, astronauts are also guinea pigs, so Paolo is wearing a sensor on his forehead that continuously records his body temperature over the course of 36 hours at a time. The Circadian Rhythms data is allowing researchers to understand how astronauts’ cope with living in unnatural day-night cycles. On Earth the Sun helps set our biological clocks – on the Space Station sunsets occur every 90 minutes and Paolo will live in artificial light during his whole Vita mission. The special thermometer was chosen so astronauts do not have to interrupt their work to check their own temperature – this device is automatic and more practical than the old-fashioned method. Now it has been proven in space, the thermometer is being used in hospitals and by firefighters.

Space lettuce harvest. Credits: ESA/NASA

Space lettuce harvest. Credits: ESA/NASA

Paolo is bathed in a pink glow… this is not disco-lighting but the light from a space greenhouse off-picture. NASA’s Veggie greenhouse is growing lettuce in the European Columbus laboratory that is fit to eat. Previous experiments showed that red light is optimal for growing plants in space. Veggie is already a favourite experiment for astronauts because it offers fresh food at the end of a harvest! Learning how to grow food in space is essential for longer trips further away from Earth.

Lastly Paolo is wearing his Russian Expedition 53 t-shirt that uses Cyrillic script for “Paolo” and “ISS”. Paolo is part of the 53rd expedition since the first Space Station increment in 2000.

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