Ever want to ask a real life astronaut a question? Here’s your chance!
Astronauts Drew Feustel & Ricky Arnold will be taking your questions in a VideoAnswer Time session. We’ll collect your questions and send them to space to be answered by the astronauts on Friday, May 18. We’ll record their answers and post them on Wednesday, May 23 here on NASA’s Tumblr. Make sure to ask your question now by visiting http://nasa.tumblr.com/ask!
Andrew J. Feustel was selected by NASA in 2000. He has been assigned to Expedition 55/56, which launched in March 2018. The Lake Orion, Michigan native has a Ph.D. in the Geological Sciences, specializing in Seismology, and is a veteran of two spaceflights. Follow Feustel on Twitter and Instagram.
Richard R. Arnold II was selected as an astronaut by NASA in May 2004. The Maryland native worked in the marine sciences and as a teacher in his home state, as well as in countries such as Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Follow Arnold on Twitter and Instagram.
This 45 day mission – which begins Feb. 1, 2018 – will help our researchers learn how isolation and close quarters affect individual and group behavior. This study at our Johnson Space Center prepares us for long duration space missions, like a trip to an asteroid or even to Mars.
The Human Research Exploration Analog (HERA) that the crew members will be living in is one compact, science-making house. But unlike in a normal house, these inhabitants won’t go outside for 45 days. Their communication with the rest of planet Earth will also be very limited, and they won’t have any access to internet. So no checking social media, kids!
The only people they will talk with regularly are mission control and each other.
The HERA XVI crew is made up of 2 men and 2 women, selected from the Johnson Space Center Test Subject Screening (TSS) pool. The crew member selection process is based on a number of criteria, including criteria similar to what is used for astronaut selection. The four would-be astronauts are:
What will they be doing?
The crew are going on a simulated journey to an asteroid, a 715-day journey that we compress into 45 days. They will fly their simulated exploration vehicle around the asteroid once they arrive, conducting several site surveys before 2 of the crew members will participate in a series of virtual reality spacewalks.
They will also be participating in a suite of research investigations and will also engage in a wide range of operational and science activities, such as growing and analyzing plants and brine shrimp, maintaining and “operating” an important life support system, exercising on a stationary bicycle or using free weights, and sharpening their skills with a robotic arm simulation.
They work 16 hours a day, Monday through Friday. This includes time for daily planning, conferences, meals and exercise.
Mission: February 1, 2018 – March 19, 2018
But beware! While we do all we can to avoid crises during missions, crews need to be able to respond in the event of an emergency. The HERA crew will conduct a couple of emergency scenario simulations, including one that will require them to respond to a decrease in cabin pressure, potentially finding and repairing a leak in their spacecraft.
Throughout the mission, researchers will gather information about living in confinement, teamwork, team cohesion, mood, performance and overall well-being. The crew members will be tracked by numerous devices that each capture different types of data.
On this day in 1972, two NASA astronauts landed on the Moon. Now, 45 years later, we have been instructed to return to the lunar surface.
Today at the White House, President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 1, a change in national space policy that provides for a U.S.-led program with private sector partners for a human return to the Moon, followed by missions to Mars and beyond.
Among other dignitaries on hand for the signing, were NASA astronauts Sen. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, Buzz Aldrin, Peggy Whitson and Christina Koch.
Schmitt landed on the moon 45 years to the minute that the policy directive was signed as part of our Apollo 17 mission, and is the most recent living person to have set foot on our lunar neighbor.
Above, at the signing ceremony instructing us to send humans back to the lunar surface, Schmitt shows First Daughter Ivanka Trump the Moon sample he collected in 1972.
The effort signed today will more effectively organize government, private industry and international efforts toward returning humans on the Moon, and will lay the foundation that will eventually enable human exploration of Mars.
When the space station flies overhead, it’s usually easy to spot because it’s the third brightest object in the night sky. You can even enter your location into THIS website and get a list of dates/times when it will be flying over you!
Then, on Saturday, Dec. 2, just one day before the peak of this month’s supermoon, the space station was seen passing in front of the Moon.
Captured by another NASA HQ Photographer, this composite image shows the space station, with a crew of six onboard, as its silhouette transits the Moon at roughly five miles per second.
Here’s an animated version of the transit.
To top off all of this night sky greatness, are these beautiful images of the Dec. 3 supermoon. This marked the first of three consecutive supermoons taking the celestial stage. The two others will occur on Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, 2018.
A supermoon occurs when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth at the same time that it is full.
Are you this pilot? An aircraft taking off from Ronald Reagan National Airport is seen passing in front of the Moon as it rose on Sunday.
It’s Thanksgiving time…which means you’re probably thinking about food…
Ever wonder what the astronauts living and working on the International Space Station eat during their time 250 miles above the Earth? There’s no microwave, but they get by using other methods.
Here are some fun facts about astronaut food…
Astronauts are assigned their own set of silverware to use during their mission (they can keep it afterward too). Without a dishwasher in orbit, they use special wipes to sterilize their set between uses, but it’s still better for everyone if they keep track of and use their own! So many sets of silverware were ordered during the space shuttle program that crews on the space station today still use silverware engraved with the word “shuttle” on them! So #retro.
You probably know that astronauts use tortillas instead of bread to avoid crumbs floating everywhere. Rodolfo Neri Vela, a payload specialist from Mexico, who flew on the space shuttle in 1985, introduced tortillas to the space food system. Back then, we would buy fresh tortillas the day before launch to send on the 8-10 day space shuttle missions.
We then learned how to reduce the water activity when formulating tortillas, which coupled with the reduction of oxygen during packaging would prevent the growth of mold and enable them to last for longer shuttle missions. Now, we get tortillas from the military. In August 2017, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot ate a meal that included tortillas from 2015!
Our food menu is mostly all made from scratch so it can meet the requirements of the nutrition team and ensure astronauts eat enough fruits and vegetables. The space station is stocked with a standard menu that includes a mix of the more than 200 food and drink options available. This ensures lots of variety for the station crews but not too many of each individual item.
The food is packaged into bulk overwrap bags, referred to as BOBs, which are packed into cargo transfer bags for delivery to the space station. Each astronaut also gets to bring nine personalized BOBs for a mission, each containing up to 60 food and drink options so they can include more of their favorites – or choose to send a few specific items for everyone to share on a particular holiday like Thanksgiving. As a result, the crew members often share and swap their food to get more variety. Astronauts also can include any food available at the grocery store as long as it has an 18-month shelf life at room temperature and meets the microbiological requirements.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are a special treat for astronauts, so nearly every cargo resupply mission includes fresh fruit and veggies – and sometimes ice cream!
The Dragon spacecraft has freezers to bring science samples back to Earth. If there is space available on its way to orbit, the ground crew may fill the freezer with small cups of ice cream or ice cream bars.
Some food arrives freeze-dried, and the astronauts rehydrate it by inserting a specific amount of hot or ambient water from a special machine.
Other food comes ready to eat but needs to be reheated, which crew members do on a hot-plate like device. We recently also sent an oven style food warmer to station for the crew to use. And of course, some food like peanuts just get packaged for delivery and are ready to eat as soon as the package is opened!
Our nutritional biochemists have discovered that astronauts who eat more fish in space lost less bone, which is one of the essential problems for astronauts to overcome during extended stays in space. In the limited area aboard the space shuttle, not all crew members loved it when their coworkers ate the (aromatic) fish dishes, but now that the space station is about the size of a six-bedroom house, that’s not really a problem.
Astronauts on station have had the opportunity to grow (and eat!) a modest amount of fresh vegetables since the first lettuce harvest in August 2015, with new crops growing now and more coming soon. Crew members have been experimenting using the Veggie growth chamber, and soon plant research will also occur in the new Advanced Plant Habitat, which is nearly self-sufficient and able to control every aspect of the plant environment!
Growing food in space will be an important component of future deep space missions, and our nutritionists are working with these experiments to ensure they also are nutritious and safe for the crew to eat.
Thanksgiving in Space
The crew on the space station will enjoy Thanksgiving together. Here’s a look at their holiday menu:
Learn more about growing food on the space station HERE.
Here are some of the really neat science and research experiments that will be delivered to the station:
What’s Microgravity Got to do with Bacterial Antibiotics?
Antibiotic resistance could pose a danger to astronauts, especially since microgravity has been shown to weaken human immune response. E. coli AntiMicrobial Satellite (EcAMSat) will study microgravity’s effect on bacterial antibiotic resistance.
Results from this experiment could help us determine appropriate antibiotic dosages to protect astronaut health during long-duration human spaceflight and help us understand how antibiotic effectiveness may change as a function of stress on Earth.
Laser Beams…Not on Sharks…But on a CubeSat
Traditional laser communication systems use transmitters that are far too large for small spacecraft. The Optical Communication Sensor Demonstration (OCSD) tests the functionality of laser-based communications using CubeSats that provide a compact version of the technology.
Results from OCSD could lead to improved GPS and other satellite networks on Earth and a better understanding of laser communication between small satellites in low-Earth orbit.
This Hybrid Solar Antenna Could Make Space Communication Even Better
As space exploration increases, so will the need for improved power and communication technologies. The Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna (ISARA), a hybrid power and communication solar antenna that can send and receive messages, tests the use of this technology in CubeSat-based environmental monitoring.
ISARA may provide a solution for sending and receiving information to and from faraway destinations, both on Earth and in space.
More Plants in Space!
Ready for a mouthful…The Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Microgravity via Rhizobium-Legume Symbiosis…aka the Biological Nitrogen Fixation experiment, will examine how low-gravity conditions affect the nitrogen fixation process of the Microclover legume (a plant in the pea family). Nitrogen fixation is a process where nitrogen in the atmosphere is converted into ammonia. This crucial element of any ecosystem is also a natural fertilizer that is necessary for most types of plant growth.
This experiment could tell us about the space viability of the legume’s ability to use and recycle nutrients and give researchers a better understanding of this plant’s potential uses on Earth.
Fourteen new Astronaut Candidates have reported to our Johnson Space Center in Houston for duty on Monday, Aug. 21! Two astronauts from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), along with our 12 new astronaut candidates arrived for their first day of work. We selected these 12 individuals from a record number of more than 18,000 applicants.
This excited group of outstanding individuals will begin 2 years of training, along with 2 Canadian astronauts, in 5 key areas before being assigned to a mission.
What 5 areas? Let’s take a look…
1. Operate in T-38 Jets
Astronauts must be able to safely operate in the T-38 jets as either a pilot or back seater.
2. Operate + Maintain the International Space Station
Astronauts learn to operate and maintain the complex systems aboard the International Space Station. Did you know they recycle their water there? Today’s coffee is…well, tomorrow’s coffee too.
3. Learn How to Spacewalk
Or should we say waterwalk? Astronauts demonstrate the skills to complete complex spacewalk tasks in our Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory. This 6.2 million gallon pool contains a mockup of the space station and is a close simulation to microgravity.
4. Learn to Operate a Robot
Astronauts train in Canada for 2 weeks to learn how to capture visiting vehicles and more with the space station’s Canadarm 2 robotic arm.
5. Learn a Foreign Language
Astronauts must be fluent in both English and Russian, the two official languages on the International Space Station.
But before they begin all this training…they had to report for duty…
This group reported for Johnson Space Center on eclipse day and was sworn in as NASA’s Astronaut Candidate Class of 2017.
They even got to experience the partial solar eclipse together, what a great first day!
When humans launch to the International Space Station, they are members of expeditions. An expedition is long duration stay on the space station. The first expedition started when the crew docked to the station on Nov. 2, 2000.
Expedition 52 began in June 2017 aboard the orbiting laboratory and will end in September 2017.
FUN FACT: Each Expedition begins with the undocking of the spacecraft carrying the departing crew from the previous Expedition. So Expedition 52 began with the undocking of the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft that brought Expedition 51 crew members Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet back to Earth, leaving NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer and Roscosmos cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin aboard the station to await the arrival of the rest of the Expedition 52 crew in July.
This expedition includes dozens of out of this world science investigations and a crew that takes #SquadGoals to a whole new level.
Take a look below to get to know the crew members and some of the science that will occur during the space station’s 52nd expedition.
Fyodor Yurchikhin (Roscosmos) – Commander
Born: Batumi, Adjar ASSR, Georgian SSR Interests: collecting stamps and space logos, sports, history of cosmonautics and reading Spaceflights: STS-112, Exps. 15, 24/25, 36/37, 51 Bio: https://go.nasa.gov/2o9PO9F
Jack Fischer (NASA) – Flight Engineer
Born: Louisville, Colorado. Interests: spending time with my family, flying, camping, traveling and construction Spaceflights: Expedition 51 Twitter:@Astro2Fish Bio: https://go.nasa.gov/2o9FY7o
Peggy Whitson (NASA) – Flight Engineer
Born: Mount Ayr, Iowa Interests: weightlifting, biking, basketball and water skiing Spaceflights: STS-111, STS – 113, Exps. 5, 16, 50, 51, 52 Twitter: @AstroPeggy Bio:https://go.nasa.gov/2rpL58x
Randolph Bresnik (NASA) – Flight Engineer
Born: Fort Knox, Kentucky Interests: travel, music, photography, weight training, sports, scuba diving, motorcycling, and flying warbirds Spaceflights: STS-129 and STS-135 Twitter: @AstroKomrade Bio:https://go.nasa.gov/2rq5Ssm
In addition to one tentatively planned spacewalk, crew members will conduct scientific investigations that will demonstrate more efficient solar arrays, study the physics of neutron stars, study a new drug to fight osteoporosis and study the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart.
Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA)
Solar panels are an efficient way to generate power, but they can be delicate and large when used to power a spacecraft or satellites. They are often tightly stowed for launch and then must be unfolded when the spacecraft reaches orbit.
The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA), is a solar panel concept that is lighter and stores more compactly for launch than the rigid solar panels currently in use. ROSA has solar cells on a flexible blanket and a framework that rolls out like a tape measure.
Neutron Star Interior Composition Explored (NICER)
Neutron stars, the glowing cinders left behind when massive stars explode as supernovas, are the densest objects in the universe, and contain exotic states of matter that are impossible to replicate in any ground lab.
Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for Osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5)
When people and animals spend extended periods of time in space, they experience bone density loss. The Systemic Therapy of NELL-1 for osteoporosis (Rodent Research-5) investigation tests a new drug that can both rebuild bone and block further bone loss, improving health for crew members.
Fruit Fly Lab-02
Exposure to reduced gravity environments can result in cardiovascular changes such as fluid shifts, changes in total blood volume, heartbeat and heart rhythm irregularities, and diminished aerobic capacity. The Fruit Fly Lab-02 study will use the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) to better understand the underlying mechanisms responsible for the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on the heart.
Our planet is shown surrounded by an imaginary constellation shaped like a house, depicting the theme of the patch: “The Earth is our home.” It is our precious cradle, to be preserved for all future generations. The house of stars just touches the Moon, acknowledging the first steps we have already taken there, while Mars is not far away, just beyond the International Space Station, symbolized by the Roman numeral “LII,” signifying the expedition number.
The planets Saturn and Jupiter, seen orbiting farther away, symbolize humanity’s exploration of deeper space, which will begin soon. A small Sputnik is seen circling the Earth on the same orbit with the space station, bridging the beginning of our cosmic quest till now: Expedition 52 will launch in 2017, sixty years after that first satellite. Two groups of crew names signify the pair of Soyuz vehicles that will launch the astronauts of Expedition 52 to the Station.
Click here for more details about the expedition and follow @ISS_Research on Twitter to stay up to date on the science happening aboard YOUR orbiting laboratory!
We’re so excited to introduce America’s new astronauts! After evaluating a record number of applications, we’re proud to present our 2017 astronaut class!
These 12 new astronaut candidates were chosen from more than 18,300 people who submitted applications from December 2015 to February 2016. This was more than double the previous record of 8,000 set in 1978.
This Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.
She enjoys hiking, backpacking, running and reading.
Zena is a native of Virginia and completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Master of Science degree in Marine Sciences at The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments.
In her free time, she enjoys canoeing, caving, raising backyard chickens and glider flying.
Raja is an Iowa native and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with Bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
He has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16 and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This Colorado native earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
He has more than 1,600 hours of flight time in 28 aircraft, 400 carrier-arrested landigns and 61 combat missions.
Bob is a Pennsylvania native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he earned a Master’s degree in Flight Test Engineering. He continued on to earn a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Alabama.
During the last five years, he has served as a research pilot at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
Nicknamed “Woody”, this Pennsylvania native earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkley.
This California native trained and operated as a Navy SEAL, completing more than 100 combat operations and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V”. Afterward, he went on to complete a degree in Mathematics at the University of San Diego and a Doctorate of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
His interests include spending time with his family, volunteering with non-profit vertern organizations, academic mentoring, working out and learning new skills.
Robb is an Alaska native and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver, before going on to complete a Master’s degree in Materials Science and a Doctorate in Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.
He is a private pilot and also enjoys playing piano, photography, packrafting, running, cycling, backcountry skiing and SCUBA diving.
This New York native earned a Bachlor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering with Information Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.
She is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has accumulated mofre than 1,600 hours of flight time and 150 combat missions.