Antonio Litterio and the Concordia crew talked with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station last week. The Concordia crew, surrounded by 600 km of white space share their experiences with Luca, surrounded by infinite black space. As always Antonio suggests you listen to music by Roberto Cacciapaglia as you read his experience:
On 20 September, our reality was confronted by another reality in a unique isolated location. At 19:50 an unusual place shows on the screen in our living room , it is a small space and a person floats freely right in the centre of it. It is Luca Parmitano, the Italian astronaut currently on a mission on the International Space Station.
We were all listening to him speaking in perfect English, amazed and astonished at seeing a person floating upside-down or stretched out in mid-air. But at that moment I felt the urge to cut myself off from everything. I kept hearing his voice in the background and our voices that filled the room,and I started to think about the similarities between our two experiences. Fifteen people on the Antarctic ice compared with six floating in space. Both experiencing realities that are lost in vast territories, isolated from the rest of civilisation, protected by a hostile environment thanks only to technologies invented by man. The absence of fresh food and restful sleep, distanced from loved ones, seeing unique things, the same visions but from a different perspective. We see the same as Aurora Australis and stratospheric clouds but somethings completely unique to Luca such as his dawn - an explosion of colour that lasts but a few minutes whereas we are the only ones that see the Sun change colour, from green, pink, red, orange to purple.
Two unique and yet similar experiences, but so very different. Somebody asked the question "Will you go back?" and Luca’s answer was "Of course!" as his face lit up with joy. While our response to the same question was accompanied by a sigh: "Some of us would come back but not for another winter ". I noticed surprise on Luca’s face when he heard our answer, as if he expected something different.
But for me it was all clear, in his response and reaction, I saw myself during the first three months of this experience, in our response I saw me now after 10 months living in Antarctica. Those who reach Mars will understand us and go even beyond this feeling.
At the end of the evening while I was sorting through the photos my attention was drawn to a small detail: our faces lit up at the sight of our house seen from space that appears in the frame of the webcam. It is always a thrill to see something unique.