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Transcript for Microgravity:
Caution: Falling EVERYTHING!
Robot Design Challenge

March 13, 2003

>> Hi, everybody, welcome to Johnson Space Center distance learning.
We're talking about micro gravity.
>> How we get the astronauts ready to live and work in space which is one of the cooler things special about the Johnson Space Center.
We're one out of NASA centers in the NASA education family.
Our special focus is getting the astronauts ready to work and live in space.
We want to show you a little bit about some of the training just to get started that the astronauts go through.
You know, when you're selected to be an astronaut you go through about maybe a year and a half worth of training of all kinds of things.
I bet there are students out there that may not realize some of the things the astronauts are really trained on.
Basic systems of the space shuttle, the International Space Station but also extreme training.
They go through survival training.
That looks like fun.
Survive in the woods training.
A lot of astronauts are pilots so they keep their hours up on the T-38.
We have a lot of mock-up facilities where we keep our life-sized models of crafts and modules.
The astronauts train in one of the buildings called the space vehicle mock-up facility.
And this is a building we're in now.
We're coming live from the space vehicle mock-up facility, right, Lee?
>> This is the space mock-up vehicle facility.
Like we said.
It's a full size mock-up of the space shuttle.
>> It's just missing the wings and wheels.
This trainer is really used for the astronauts to practice getting in and out.
We call it ingress and egress.
This building is so large it can also hold other modules.
We have models of the International Space Station in the building.
Let's check out a few models.
One of them that's interesting is the Soyuz capsule.
It's the gray, round ball kind of there in the middle of your screen.
It looks like it has a black tire on top.
And that's our crew return vehicle or some people call it our crew escape vehicle.
It's what's attached to the International Space Station now.
If anything would happen our astronauts can return safely home in this vehicle.
It was created by the Russian space agency and glad to have them partnering with us.
This building is much larger, as we pan across the building you can see some of the other models of some of our modules already in orbit.
Some of these parts are already connected to the International Space Station.
There is the laboratory that's up in space.
We're doing important research already.
To show you how we have 16 countries working together.
The Japanese experiment module you see in the back.
It has kind of an apartment-looking capsule on the top.
The Japanese will also have a back porch so they can have with a robotic arm to expose experiments to space.
If you look to the right of your screen that's the Columbus module from the European space agency.
We'll be talking a lot about the International Space Station today because it's where the microgravity research is taking place long-term.
It's a good thing we have it out there.
We'll talk about we do microgravity research on earth but only have a little bit of time.
This gravity environment that we can actual I do that research.
It is very important.
>> I have a question.
I'll start off kind of picking on Lee wondering.
You keep saying microgravity.
I thought the term was 0G.
>> We refer to it a lot of time as 0G but there is actually 100th of gravity in space so there is not true 0G.
There is a little bit of gravity up there.
>> The definition would be like micro and you add on gravity.
>> A little bit of gravity.
>> We'll be talking about that today and why it's important to maybe do research.
>> Well, actually let's talk about the International Space Station and what is happening with it.
It is orbiting our earth at 220 miles above the earth at 17,000 miles-per-hour.
That's pretty fast.
>> Yes, it is.
>> Those are special numbers that keep it in orbit going around the earth and it gets to see all kinds of different countries.
All 16 countries that are involved get to see the International Space Station fly over.
>> If we did our math calculations right, I think if you snap your fingers, I bet about every time you snap your fingers you're going about five miles.
Five miles per second.
Pretty fast.
>> Amazing.
If you snap your finger, five miles.
Pretty amazing.
Very fast.
Now, 17,000 miles-per-hour and 220 miles above the earth.
Now, I wonder where they got those numbers?
Do you think we could go faster?
What do you think would happen if we went faster?
>> I'm guessing we might go out further in space.
>> That's right.
We wouldn't stay orbiting around earth but we'd go out into space.
>> I have a question for you.
Is the space station completely built yet?
>> That's a good question.
No, it's not.
We hope to have it built by 2006 or so.
There is a large portion of it.
You can see it in the night sky.
It is the brightest light in the sky.
And you can even take a look to see when it's going to come over your city.
We'll talk about that later.
We can see the International Space Station right here in its position at 220 miles above the earth and 17,000 miles-per-hour.
Let's talk about the numbers again.
Where on earth did we get those numbers?
Well, that theory comes from a long time ago, actually.
The man who thought of it looks like this.
His name is sir Isaac Newton.
>> I wasn't quite sure where you were going.
>> Sir Isaac Newton had the theory if you could shoot a cannon ball high enough and fast enough it would continue to go around the earth.
We get those numbers at 17,000 miles-per-hour and 220 miles above the earth it continuously falls.
Did you know they were actually falling?
>> That is really neat.
Microgravity is really free fall.
>> Uh-huh.
That's exactly right.
They're actually free falling.
Now, there are different ways that we can explain this.
It looks as if we're floating when we see them in pictures.
>> I thought that's what they were doing was floating.
>> They're actually -- everything is falling.
That's why we named it this.
"Caution: Falling Everything!".
So as we talk about that they are continuously falling around the earth, everybody and everything in the International Space Station looks as if it's floating.
>> That is interesting.
You know, when you think about it, I have heard that a lot of times the astronauts experience something kind of interesting when they first get into space probably the feeling we get when we're falling.
Maybe on a rollercoaster or something like that.
That's really interesting.
>> Exactly.
Let's talk about free fall in a little different way just like you're talking about.
When we're on a rollercoaster.
This astronaut is in an elevator holding an apple.
The elevator goes to the top and the cable breaks and they begin to fall.
As we can see the apple, the astronaut and the elevator are all falling at the same time.
That's what's happening with the International Space Station.
Everything is falling so it looks as if it is floating.
So it's actually free fall.
We'll be talking about that today and the comparison between what is going earth, gravity, the thing that's keeping us standing here on earth without floating up, and microgravity, free fall actually.
>> I've already learned something.
I won't go around and use the term 0G so freely.
I'll start using the term microgravity.
By the time we finish you'll be able to not only use the word correctly but also learn about the research on space stations.
>> We have students sending in questions today.
We'll answer some in a little bit.
We want to say hello to a middle school class from Texas, an 8th grade class.
We encourage all of you to get on the chat rooms and put on the questions.
We'll try to get to as many questions as we can.
>> Welcome.
Let's talk a little bit.
I said we only get a little bit of time to do research and things.
The astronauts have to be able to train and get ready to go into that environment, the microgravity environment.
Let's talk a little bit about how we do that here in a gravity environment.
Erika, I wish I could keep a secret.
Some of the cooler things we do here to get the astronauts to live and work in space.
I know that one of the ways is kind of like on a plane, right?
>> Exactly, on a plane.
And it's called the KC135.
It's a plane that goes out over the Gulf of Mexico and flies at 45 degree angles.
They go at a high angle.
You can see it coming.
Getting ready to start back down.
As it falls back down everyone begins to float or actually as we've learned today, free fall.
You can see that the astronauts in the plane are actually falling.
Now, this gives us about 30 seconds every time we come out of that period of time to experience the free fall and do research in that environment.
It's a microgravity environment for 30 seconds when they come through.
>> The feeling of coming off a rollercoaster, it's the same experience.
>> When I go on a rollercoaster and go up and down and especially if I went 40 times an the KC135 out over across the Gulf of Mexico I think I would probably get a little sick feeling.
>> I would, too.
>> A lot of the people that fly on the KC135 and we commonly call it the vomit comet because people sometimes feel sick.
They are feeling that experience.
It gets our astronauts ready and trained and we also do research in the KC135 to compare what happens in microgravity to gravity which is what we'll be talking about today.
All the research going on in the International Space Station because of its unique environment.
>> We also have another way to train the astronauts.
A lot of you have already thought of this.
We train them in a swimming pool.
>> We actually have the world's largest swimming pool here.
You're looking at live video of our astronauts training right now.
Now, our pool is probably a little bit bigger than your community pool or backyard swimming pool.
Our pool holds about 6.2 million gallons of water.
It's 202 feet long by 202 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
Would you like to take a swim in that pool?
We built it that big because we want to put life-size models of the space station and the shuttle payload bay inside the pool.
We can rearrange the models to configurations based on what we're training the astronauts to do.
For every 10 practices in this pool the astronauts will do one space walk.
So they have a lot of training involved before they do a space walk and they know exactly what they're expected to do when they get up there.
The interesting thing about this is it's one way to simulate microgravity.
You weigh out the astronauts.
That astronaut there is floating in the middle of the pool.
He or she is not sinking to the bottom or rising to the top because we add weight or we add foam so they can stay neutrally buoyant which is floating in the middle.
Really interesting.
>> Now, that helps the astronauts get used to that environment, that microgravity entire onment.
Unfortunately we can't do experiments that compare it.
The astronauts can get the feeling.
It's research we're doing up there as well.
Research on the astronauts and their bodies and how they relate to that.
>> We have some visitors taking part in a robot challenge.
We want to say hi to you guys out there.
We haven't forgotten about you.
We know you'll be taking today's information and applying it to creating your robots.
A lot of human factors information goes into creating what you want your robot to do.
Think about some of the things we're saying, how humans relate to microgravity and how we get them ready through training and maybe how some of your robots can help us do that.
>> I said we had the KC135 that gives us about 30 seconds of free fall each time it comes out to give us research time.
There is other ways that we can experiment and the astronauts can get ready.
There are also some experiments done in a drop tower.
10 seconds is all we get in the fall.
It's not a lot of research.
The long duration of the International Space Station being in microgravity is so beneficial to us and it's what we want to talk about today.
>> Interesting.
A cool experiment for some of the students talking about drop tower.
You go to a really high elevation, maybe the top of a two-story building and you drop something off it and there will be a little bit of the free fall that you get within that time.
>> Excellent.
You can drop a soda can with a hole in it.
When you drop it and the water begins to go back into the hole it doesn't come out of the can.
There is all kinds of experiments like that to experience what happens in that environment.
We'll talk more about that.
Now, let's talk about comparing gravity with microgravity.
And something that is very common to us that we can explain is this cup.
>> I remember this game and I'm not good at it.
>> We'll see how good I am.
On earth as I swing my arm and the ball is at the end of the string, I can make it fall back down into the cup.
All right?
So, we can continue to play and push our arm back and forth and the ball falls into the cup.
Now, Erika, what is causing the ball to fall in the cup?
>> Gravity.
>> Now let's take a look at how an astronauts in microgravity would play with the cup and ball activity and compare microgravity with gravity.
>> This ball and cup was one of the more difficult toys I've demonstrated on the flight.
You can see the ball just won't stay in the cup as it does on earth.
Of course, on earth we have gravity holding the ball in the cup.
In this microgravity environment, when I put the ball in the cup and then push to hold it, I've actually pushed the ball away.
I never could get the ball to stay inside the cup.
We'll try again.
You can see I just push on the ball and that pushes the ball out.
>> So just using this common toy we can see there is a definite difference between how I play with this toy here on earth and gravity, as compared to how the astronaut -- every time he tried to put it in the cup the ball would float away because it's not being affected by gravity.
>> Completely different game in space.
Not as much fun.
>> Looks kind of fun.
Let's talk a little bit about the research being done on the International Space Station.
And some of the comparison we're going to be talking about.
What are some of the things that you know are being -- taking place on there?
>> I have an inside advantage just working at NASA.
I know for one maybe combustion science.
And also maybe biotechnology.
>> Excellent.
All right.
Now, we do fluid physics as well as material science.
And just the living and working challenges us as the astronauts having to do those things.
Live and work in that environment.
Let's talk a little bit more specifically about biotechnology.
>> Biotechnology.
>> Bio, I break that word down and think about the fact that bio means living there.
Technology are the sciences used and the future technology used to put that together.
Now one of the things we're looking at in biotechnology are protein crystal growths.
This is very important to our bodies because proteins have many functions in our body as far as part of our cell tissues and diseases that are within our bodies.
So it's extremely important that we get a closer look at some of these protein crystals so we can maybe create medications and pharmaceuticals to better fit the needs of our body.
>> You know, Lee, I bet a lot of students are wondering we do that kind of thing on earth.
You'll see why it's so important for us to do it in microgravity and we'll look at that.
>> Let's take a look at what a protein crystal growth looks like in gravity environment.
Now, you can see they're all different sizes.
There is not that many of them.
There is lots of space between them.
Different sizes, different shapes.
They're not all the same shapes and there is not very many of them.
If you take a look at what they look like in microgravity it's different.
What do you see that's different?
>> It looks like there is a lot more of them.
And the shape of them in the second picture, the picture that is supposed to be in microgravity, the shapes are more exact and they look a lot more alike.
>> Exactly.
Now, comparing those two, I would say that we would want a closer look into the protein crystals to see where the medications might be developed to fit with that.
Now, there are some issues between the comparison of gravity and microgravity.
Why are there not a lot of crystals in the first picture?
Why are there, you know, space between and different sizes?
Now, there are reasons why there are differences.
>> This is interesting.
I think I'm kind of figuring out based on what you're saying.
I would say that maybe we take one protein crystal and what we're trying to do.
Let's say, for example, we have some type of cell like a diabetes or something that we're trying to develop medicine for.
And maybe the medicine is on the bottom would represent.
Am I right?
>> Anything that we would develop in a gravity environment is what's on bottom and it is being affected by things in a gravity environment.
Let's talk a look at what is actually happening as we develop those protein crystals in gravity in their dishes.
Now what's happening is gravity is pushing down on things in our environment much like the protein crystals in the dish.
Let's say there are different elements within that dish.
Well, if you've got gravity, it's going to separate much like this Italian dressing I have in my hand.
We have three different layers that we can see that are separating because gravity pulls the heavier items to the bottom and the lighter ones go to the top.
When we're doing our experiments in the dish, then you can see that that's what is happening.
It's pulling some of the heavier items to the bottom.
So we get that look of the picture that we looked at earlier that it the crystals aren't of perfect structure.
>> They don't look like puzzle pieces.
They look like those aren't the right puzzle pieces.
What we're trying to do is make them where they're the right puzzle pieces and they come together and match up right.
>> You can see that's right.
We want to be able to look closer at the structure of the crystals so they fit together and provide us a more stable medication with the protein crystals so we can develop them to fit and give us more benefits of the medication that we develop up there.
>> That's really interesting.
Now, I know they're doing a lot of research already as part of biotechnology and a lot of times when we think about this we'd love to hear more about our astronauts working to come up with scientists to come up with maybe cures for diseases.
I know we're doing a lot of cancer research already in space.
What would be important with studying cancer cells in space?
>> Just like we were talking about earlier about the protein crystals, we can look at cancer cells.
Now, the one on the left is developed in the gravity environment.
Gravity is pushing them down and making them flat.
The things are settling out of it are causing sedimentation.
As I demonstrated with the bottle.
Now on the right in microgravity the cells are more three dimensional like they are in our bodies so we can actually look at them as if we're looking closely to develop medications as they are in our bodies and develop protein crystals and other things that go into medications to fit like the graphic earlier that are -- can produce more effective medications.
>> We have a couple of questions that have come in and we're excited and want to make sure we have about 35 minutes left of our sharing time with you.
Be sure to put your questions in the chat room and we'll get so as many as we can.
If we were researching medicines for use on earth what is the advantage to looking at them in space?
We answered that question and glad to know you're thinking on the same lines we were.
What if you get sick in microgravity?
Is it harder to treat sickness?
>> Actually that's all part of our research that is taking place up there.
And we are researching how it affects the astronauts when they get sick and if the medications that we have developed here on earth work the same when they take them in microgravity.
So fortunately our astronauts do not get sick very often and we do have medications that we've developed here on earth and taken up with them to treat some of those sicknesses.
But they are very healthy.
But that's also research going on so we can know if we need to develop different medications to work better in a microgravity environment.
I want to add to that quickly.
Also when our astronauts go on orbit they also have a full surgeon consult that consults with them on a daily basis if they have anything they would like consultation on and those types of things.
All of our astronaut crews are trained in basic first aid and CPR and those types of things for minor problems that may come up.
So we definitely cover our bases once we send our astronauts to live aboard the International Space Station.
>> In our discussion we talked about the size of the crystals and that they were different shapes.
Now, we can talk a little bit about an activity that is available to you through the pre-activities and maybe you completed it regarding inertial balance.
It's how we weigh things in space.
Everything is weightless.
>> I couldn't move a refrigerator by myself here but in microgravity I could be really strong and move the refrigerator by myself if I need to.
This is interestsing.
What is inertial balance about?
Let's talk about the fact that this activity is the inertial balance activity and you can download it from our site or you may have already completed it.
It talks about the fact that we measure the repetition of the canister, in this case, back and forth.
We have the weight within the canister and in the -- in the International Space Station we have a chair that measures the weight of the astronauts, all right?
Kind of interesting.
>> I know.
We've done this activity here and it is a lot of fun.
If you get a partner it's better.
One person can time and jot down the information while the other person moves it.
We use pennies.
Different levels of pennies are in there so it works out to where like say, for example, Lee and I did this activity and came up with this graph.
And, for example, say we had a really little astronaut that we were weighing.
I want to use that as an example.
I don't know, Lee, look at the sack and tell me.
>> Let's say our astronaut weighed eight pennies.
>> If our astronaut weighed eight pennies that would mean.
Let me make sure I could see right.
That that astronaut would weigh about--
>> I think it would take about eight seconds to go back and forth 24 times.
>> Thank you, Lee.
>> Our graph is difficult to read.
We're applying the fact that the weight in a canister we time how many times it goes 25 cycles.
>> If you're looking at the graph, one of the interesting things that you'll see is that the more pennies we put in, the slower or the less amount of time that you will have.
So that means that the heavier the object is.
That's the whole idea behind inertial balance.
It's how we weigh our astronauts and here is an example of that type of machine on orbit.
>> Same thing.
Not a little canister.
They weigh more than eight pennies.
But they count the repetitions back and forth.
Oscillations in the chair and it gives us information regarding the astronauts.
We want to know whether or not they're losing or gaining weight because we have to control that for their health.
>> We also have a couple of other types of ways.
We have that particular chair.
But we also have another couple of ways we can do the inertial balance exercise and that may be a challenge for you guys to look on our space flight website and get more information on that.
>> We couldn't take a scale up there and step on it and weigh.
>> I would like to have a scale like that.
>> We can't have one in microgravity to stand on because gravity isn't pushing us down.
>> It's a unique challenge.
>> Another cool thing we're looking at in microgravity and space station research is combustion science.
>> That's something I probably would never have realized why we'd need to study that in space.
What is the big deal about things that are explosives?
I don't understand.
>> 85% of our energy here on earth is through combustion.
And so it's important that we find a way to make a more efficient way of energy.
>> That makes a lot of sense.
>> We can see things more clearly and different ways combustions react in a microgravity environment.
Now, the ultimate of combustion here on earth is our space shuttle launch.
Of course, combustion is a rapid self-sustaining chemical reaction that releases a significant amount of energy.
So this is truly an example of that.
As you can see, as the rock earth boosters fire up and combustion is happening here it takes our space shuttle into orbit.
Now, they're looking at some things other than launches on the International Space Station.
They're taking it down just a little bit smaller to candle flames.
It's very interesting to look at what a candle flame looks like here on earth and observe its colors and its shape.
Now, this is what you probably see on your birthday cake.
And>> If I were to sit at this picture and describe it, I would say that first of all it's kind of -- the flame is coming to a peak and I would also say that the reason why it -- the colors look like that is because heat is rising.
>> Excellent.
We have a word for that actually.
In microgravity the convection is missing.
So though heat is not rising.
Let's take a look at what happens when convection is not in place.
It looks like this.
Pretty amazing.
>> That's what the flame looks like in microgravity.
It's very different than here on earth.
>> What colors are missing?
>> I don't see the white, red or orange anymore.
>> This is a longer, cooler burning flame.
It's blue.
We can use that for a more efficient type of energy here on earth.
Now, how are we going to do that if microgravity isn't here on earth?
We have to look at how we can develop those energy sources that way.
So we can see that this is how it reacts in that environment.
Now how can we apply that back to earth?
It will be very beneficial to us because we use it, like I said, at 85% of our energy sources here on earth.
>> Interesting.
I want to make sure all you guys are going to go ahead and send in questions.
We haven't gotten as many questions as we usually get from all of you.
I know you guys are listening and out there.
So please, we have about 30 minutes left and we'll be happy to answer them.
I have a couple we would like to address.
The first is how do astronauts stop themselves in microgravity once they start to move in a certain direction?
>> All right.
Well you know, in microgravity because everything is weightless and we're floating the astronauts can move themselves by crooking their finger.
It causes them to move.
They have to be very careful.
All kinds of things within the international space station that hold them in place.
We have footholds where they strap themselves down and hand hold placements all over.
Once they're moving they actually have to stop themselves by holding or grasping on to something and then it is still not easy.
Then the rest of their body is floating.
It is one of the more difficult things they have to get accustomed to in that environment.
>> We'll look forward to you all sending in your questions to the chat room.
We'll talk about the next science that has to do with fluid physics.
What do you think about that?
You usually think about liquids and drinking or working with science or something that has to do with liquid.
>> I have water which is a very common liquid we know and are very familiar with.
If I'm here in a gravity environment pouring water from cup to cup I know the water is going to fill the cup and be the same shape as the cup.
Unfortunately in a microgravity environment if you pour this water, it is not going to stay in the cup.
Much like the ball in the cup and ball toy wouldn't stay in the cup.
It is actually going to float out.
Now, what is interesting is it floats in a big glob.
>> That's right.
It's interesting because the way that water behaves in microgravity will give us a better understanding of how fluids behave under stress on earth.
It's one of the reasons why fluid physics is so important.
Maybe it will help our civil engineers design safe buildings that may be earthquake prone, those types of things.
>> Different ways we can look at fluid.
We are looking at water but mud is a fluid.
How it reacts when we touch it or push it and do different things with it.
Put it under different stresses and we can build buildings that are suited for that.
Something else, too, we want to share with you is the fact that convection still applies when we're talking about fluid physics.
We have a great example to show you what we're talking about.
We want to take a look at this.
Here is water boiling on earth and then we'll show water boiling in microgravity.
>> We know you guys are seeing the differences, of course.
Right here we have on the left the water is actually on earth is using convection.
All the heat is rising to the top and looks like boiling water looks in a clear pot you might put on the stove at home.
In microgravity it looks different.
>> It is like the flame.
It is not forcing it up and come back down.
>> Forced convection.
I know we have a lot of space buffs out there.
I found out the astronauts heat their food using convection ovens.
The word is forced convection.
We have to force the air to go and circulate.
So that makes a big difference when you're thinking about it.
Make sure that you explain that that they're not using microwave but forced air convection.
We make the air circulate to make the heat rise.
>> We'll talk about that.
The food they eat and how they eat it in a little bit.
Let's talk about another science and some research they're doing on the International Space Station that is beneficial to us back here on earth once again.
We only have 30 seconds of time on the KC135 to look at this and 10 seconds in a drop tower, so we have a little bit longer term in the International Space Station that we can take a look at material science.
>> To mention our friends joining us that are with the robotics challenge this maybe something you really want to pay attention to.
It may help you with robots to construct them correctly to help the astronauts.
Maybe some of them will look like astronauts.
How you may want to construct them looking at the materials you may want to use if you expect them to operate properly in a microgravity environment.
>> Taking different materials and making formations and structures and different things like we do on earth.
Let's take metals, for instance.
If we'll put different types of metals together to make a stronger type of material, we mix them all together.
Things happen much like we talked about with our biotechnology research.
Things are happening in a gravity environment to cause them not to mix properly.
Now, Erika, what do you think is happening to cause some of these flaws or lines and spots and dots in the gravity metal that is developed there?
>> Remember, I remember listening to you earlier.
When you showed the Italian dressing and you were talking about how things here on earth because of gravity separate out.
I'll guess that maybe when we decide to form different metals together to make one composite type of metal that maybe they don't mix all together and stay together.
So maybe we're looking at alloys and things not perfected in the top one on the left.
>> Maybe sedimentation has a lot to do with it.
>> Let's take a look at an example here.
We have a bottle of fluids.
There is two different fluids.
One a heavier than the other.
And you can see that here in a gravity environment it's separate.
As we shake it up.
It looks like a lava lamp.
It mixes up.
But as we stand here and talk about material science and plastics, metals and all the different things we use them for in struck -- structures.
Sedimentation in a gravity environment.
>> The process is quick.
I can start seeing the lighter fluid at the top.
The oil will move to the top.
>> What happens in a microgravity environment that is so beneficial is that it will remain mixed together.
So as we develop metals in that environment as they harden, they harden with less flaws.
>> The bottom picture on the metals that we were looking at is actually smooth.
>> Yes, without the lines.
The lines are caused by sedimentation and causes flaws within the metal.
>> I guess we want to ask students, though, which type of metal bridge would you like to walk on?
The one stronger, the lower right-hand quadrant of your screen or the one at the top?
I'm sure you'd pick that one.
>> Exactly.
I would want to walk on the one that was stronger.
It's what we use when we're developing different metals and things that are stronger and lighter.
Because it's so important.
Now, golf clubs and some of the titanium and different metals have been developed from research that we've gained through microgravity research.
So that better mix of metals.
So we have to again take what we learn up there and apply it to how we develop things here in a gravity environment on earth.
>> I have a couple of questions for you, Lee.
The first has to do with mass of other objects.
This is from gold weight.
Mrs. York's class.
They want to know do you take the mass of other objects the same way you do astronauts?
>> Yes.
Just like we did the canister.
It depends on the size of the object.
Of course we have different ways but it's exactly true.
If you did this activity then you can apply it even to the small, little tiny things like protein crystals have to be measured in the same way on a very different scale completely than the chair that we showed you with the astronauts.
Great question.
I hope you guys were able to do the activity.
>> A question, how long does it take for a woman to become an astronaut?
>> I think I could probably answer that question for you.
It takes just as long as it takes for the men to become an astronaut.
Basically it's a process where you apply to become an astronaut.
There is actually a website that you can go on off the space flight website and find out about it.
It's called how to become an astronaut.
Astronauts have at least a bachelor's degree.
>From the military they're usually coming as a pilot.
They have higher education levels so many of them have masters degrees and some doctors degrees.
They come in as scientists or engineers and focus on subjects in math or science.
If you're interested in becoming an astronaut we want to get you started by finding out what you like best in the areas of math and science and just start working on those things as you progress toward college and after college.
>> I see another question.
It's about plants and how they grow in space.
That's a great question and that is research we're also doing in part of that biotechnology and living things.
We look at plant growth and how they develop.
If they still -- if their roots go down and stems grow up.
Those things are affected by gravity.
We know that the plants in the International Space Station have to be grown differently and we have to find a way.
It will be important if we go on long duration flights to be able to have some nice green lettuce for our salads and things.
>> We've had a lot of research done here at NASA and also at some of our other NASA centers.
The Kennedy Space Center is also involved in working with plants.
Some of you may have tried it and to learn different things about them.
Not only are we doing it for us to be able to have food, but also it provides a great way for us to have an exchange there.
We provide the carbon dioxide.
They provide the oxygen.
We look at those type of things for future long duration space flights.
>> Because we can't just plant them in soil like we do here.
The soil would be floating like everything else is floating.
Everything is falling.
And so we can take a look at plants and the soils and different ways to get them to grow the right direction like we do on earth.
>> You were talking about the psychological aspects.
How wonderful if it would be in you were in space for long periods of time.
How it would be nice to have a good salad.
Something that reminds us of something from earth.
A lot of that has to do with just the daily living and working in space.
We want to share with you some of the challenges just the different things that the astronauts experience living in space versus living and working on earth.
>> Let's talk about that.
There is all kinds they have to get ready to deal with.
One, of course, is sleeping.
Now, I think it would be great to be able to sleep with absolutely no gravity.
>> Like sleeping on a cloud in my dreams.
>> I think it's probably very strange because, of course, everything is floating.
So let's take a look at our astronaut who is actually taking a sleep in the International Space Station and he is actually in a sleeping bag that has him pinned to the wall to keep him from floating around.
Hooked into the wall.
He also has a blindfold on because it's bright in there.
And ear plugs on.
Ear plugs on because it's also loud in the International Space Station.
He also has something across his head that kind of kept his head in place.
Some do and some don't wear that because it's floating around as well.
You can see his arms were flying up and his head could have been bouncing around.
It's very much of a challenge to sleep in that environment.
>> You know, I had to bring up our prop to show you exactly.
This is one of our sleeping bags.
There is the head there where the astronaut would sleep and it is just very comfortable.
When we say sleeping bag it is not the kind you would take on a camping trip but very similar as far as nestling up inside something that is a bag.
>> We wouldn't want them bumping and floating around while they slept.
Now, let's talk about the fact that another thing that is extremely challenging is eating in space.
>> That's right.
You know, it is interesting because I know they have a lot more food selections out there for the astronauts to be able to choose from.
Just the fact of sitting there and trying to figure out how to keep everything in one place and not floating all over.
>> Remember, everything is floating.
So we can take a look at the different kinds of food that astronauts eat.
Now, we have actually here spaghetti with meat sauce.
It doesn't look like that.
But they have to add water to it and eat it.
Now, they have to make a little slit in this so that if they open it up like we do a bag of potato chips it would float everywhere and we would have spaghetti everywhere.
It's not a good thing.
Drinking is also a challenge.
Tell them about the drink.
>> This is kind of interesting.
I'm going to go ahead and share a little bit of information.
We work so closely with the scientists here.
The drink bags.
We work with a lot of corporations to supply different things that NASA uses and a lot of times we'll share with students that this is actually a supersized capry.
We get our bags from the same some they do.
The thing that is different about NASA is we actually have our human factors engineers that have come up with the little entry point here.
Also the tubing and the clamp that closes off the straw.
The reason why we have that.
Remember the water video?
Liquids will float.
If I were sitting here talking to Lee and we were both on orbit, my goodness.
I left the clamp open and we would have lemonade floating all over the space station and wouldn't want that to happen.
We make sure we have the clamps closed between each sip.
>> Two of the favorite things I think that would be familiar that they would want to take with them are pudding.
Just like we know it as here on earth.
This is a little handy snack chocolate pudding and, of course, everybody's favorite, M & Ms.
These are challenges.
Can you imagine eating M & Ms is a microgravity environment?
Let's take a look at some of our astronauts trying to eat in this challenging environment.
>> Now let's talk a little bit about the different types of food.
Now, this is scrambled eggs.
The water has been removed out of it.
Erika, there is all kinds of things we can do.
You know, we've seen different types and some of the sciences involved in how the foods are developed for the astronauts.
>> When you're talking about food.
It's a science in itself.
One of the interesting things is you may not be able to see this but the food comes with a label.
It has a lot of great information for the astronauts.
How much water will need to be inserted to get these eggs soft and ready to eat.
Lets the astronauts know different things like how long to heat it up.
Remember in that forced convection oven we were talking about?
One of the most interesting things it has a bar code.
All the foods that are dehydrated have bar codes.
The interesting thing about bar codes, not only does it give you information on what it is but what every individual astronaut consumes.
Every time they actually eat the food, they enter their scan in the bar code and enter it into their own bar code scanner and it gives scientists information on food intake and how it affects the human body in space.
>> These challenges happen.
We talked about the fact that in the KC135 the astronauts are feeling kind of sick and that up and down falling freefall.
That is happening all the time in microgravity.
>> Speaking of how the astronauts are getting sick.
We have Mrs. York's class a question for you, Lee.
They want to know do the astronauts ever get motion sickness in microgravity after they've been up there a while.
>> Definitely.
Actually, because they've trained, hopefully they've accustomed their body some through the KC135 and the floating feeling to those feelings.
But they do experience it once they get up there.
Hopefully within a day they -- most of them have transitioned into that environment.
Some still get sick whoo while they're up there definitely and different ways we counteract that with medications.
Much like Dramamine that you might take for motion sickness in your car trip this summer on a vacation or any time.
So we have to -- they definitely do get motion sickness up there because there is lots of movement.
Your body is doing all kinds of things that are not what they normally do on earth.
>> Speaking of other things that are challenges.
We want to talk about challenges in space.
There are some other things that you and I do every day.
We wake up to get ready to go to school or work.
That's one of the things we're hoping that you're doing is brushing your teeth.
After seeing what water does do you think the astronauts brush their teeth is same way?
>> I think it would be very difficult.
If we tried to put the tooth paste on toothbrush it would float.
>> I do know that the astronauts have tooth paste and toothbrushes that continue require water.
It's one way we work in space.
We do have wet trash and dry trash.
We try to keep the wet trash to a minimum.
There is something else that we do every day, probably more than one time a day.
That's going to the restroom.
You have to know, I mean, wouldn't you want to know exactly what you're supposed to do as far as going to the bathroom in space?
>> They have to go through training to do this correctly.
We don't want microgravity to affect the things going on.
>> A couple of things we want to share with you today about that.
Let's take a look at what the shuttle toilet looks like.
It looks almost like something you might find in a camper but a little bit different.
Remember all of the robotic teams out there and all the other students looking at living and working in space, what is the big difference?
It's microgravity.
So we'll share with you what is different about this.
How do you think we get rid of waste if everything, unfortunately, floats or free falls?
What would you think, Lee?
>> I think we would have to pull it somehow into one location much like a vacuum.
>> It's kind of what we're using is a vacuum system.
This system requires a vacuum.
Both men and women stand to get rid of liquid waste.
The solid waste is actually freeze dried and disposed of here on earth.
>> It is not shot out into space.
We want to bring that back and dispose it properly here on earth.
>> Right.
When we talk about maybe going on to explore space a little bit more we'll be talking about recycling systems and how some of that material can be recycled into drinking water and things like that.
>> When the astronauts are in -- in an extra vehicle activity in their big white suits and doing activities for eight hours.
They can't say I need to come inside and go to the restroom.
We have to have a way to solve that.
And there are different things that a lot of people think.
That they have devices within their outfits or whatever.
Actually, they wear what we call a maximum absorbent garment.
>> This is actually something engineered and designed for NASA.
I know it looks like something you could buy off the drugstore shelf but we actually added more ab sore bent material in there.
They do have eight or nine hours outside for life support.
>> When they're out there they're actually wearing a maximum absorbent garment.
Lots of things happening and lots of changes they experience.
Now, can they just walk in a shower and take a shower?
>> You know when I'm thinking about water does in space they can't.
A lot of times I'll wake up and it's one of the first things I'll do is jump in the shower.
The first thing that astronauts do.
All of you guys that enjoy camping are thinking I already know some of this stuff.
I do it on earth.
You have things like no rinse body bath and no rinse shampoo.
You can pick up in a camping supply store to use for camping.
The body bath.
They can smear it on their skin and towel dry with it.
The same for the shampoo.
They can kind of scrub it into their hair and work it around a little bit.
Those are the kind of things that keep them feeling like, you know, just ready to work for the day if they can keep fresh.
We can use water, too.
It works kind of like well, the bathroom in the sense of the vacuum.
A lot of times when they get their haircut and when they are taking a shower, if they have a vacuum close that can pull that out of the area before it gets everywhere else.
That's how they accomplish that.
They use vacuums in different ways to soak up hair or vacuum up hair when they're cutting their hair and taking a shower if they're using water.
>> Our friends at Mrs. York's class wanted to find out about the fly high program.
We want to tell you what they're talking about.
It used to be a program where we would allow high school students to be able to come on site and be able to actually fly on the KC135.
We're focusing most of our programs like that on university students.
We have a university and community college students that bid or turn in proposals that get selected for experiments that they would like to do on the KC135.
An awesome programs and teams of students come and get an opportunity to learn about training for the astronauts and all.
Get the opportunity to work their experiments on the KC135.
One of several cool educational opportunities that NASA provides.
You can find out more about this program and other NASA education programs at education.NASA.gov.
>> We're out of time for today.
Thank you for submitting your questions and we hope that if you have additional ones you'll e-mail the Distance Learning Outpost with those.
We've enjoyed sharing "Caution: Falling Everything!".
>> We know all of you sitting with your teachers, we want you to get involved with our educator astronaut program.
Students, it will be up to you to nominate your teacher to maybe become one of our next educator astronauts.
Go to the website.
And we know that you're all probably looking at your teacher and what a great honor that would be.
Check out this website.
Nominate your teacher and we look forward to maybe talking to you a little bit more from space.
>> Excellent.
Well, it's time for us to say good bye.
Thanks for all the great questions.
Check out our website if you have more questions.
Until next time, stay connected.
Talk to you soon.


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