I thought I’d check in with the International Space Station’s news blog to see how things were going for our #yearinspace travelers. I found that two of the six astronauts on board (Tim Kopra and Tim Peake) will take their next space walk this coming Friday to repair a voltage regulator and conduct some other maintenance-related tasks.
That got me thinking — I cannot imagine what one must feel like floating in space, outside of the safety of the space station, looking down on our big, beautifully-blue planet. How difficult it must be to concentrate on the tasks at hand!
Commander Kelly has taken the most beautiful pictures that document his time on the ISS. If you haven’t seen them, check them out on Twitter #amazingspacee or at https://blogs.nasa.gov. They will mesmerize you! The colors alone, especially Egypt and Africa, took my breath away.
Scott Kelly and his counterpart, Mikhail Kornienko, are on the count-down phase of #yearinspace. While it seems they have been kept quite busy during their stay, perhaps the most important study they are participating in is the Fluid Shift study. It is an attempt to understand how microgravity increases brain pressure which causes abnormal pressure on the back of the eye. Fifty percent of returning astronauts report vision changes shortly after fulfilling their missions and returning to Earth. (That’s a pretty large number!) If this is, indeed, our “New Frontier,” we owe it to all of our future travelers to understand how and why this happens — and what we can do to prevent it.
After his return, Commander Kelly’s biological changes will also be compared to that of his twin brother, Mark, in an effort to document other effects of long-term space travel. Additional stresses on bones? Accelerated aging? Reduction in muscle mass? Maybe there will be no significant changes. The results promise to be quite interesting.
So, now I will step outside and look up at the stars and realize the ISS is among them, moving at speeds of 17,150 miles per hour, hurtling around our beautifully-blue planet in an endless orbit.
I will leave you with Commander Kelly’s tweet today:
“Tell-tale sign I live on a #spaceship. Cygnus outside my window & Africa below. #HappySunday from @space_station!”
Goodnight, Commander …. until we meet again ….