March 18, 2002
Astronaut Dan Bursch, KD5PNU on board the ISS
answers questions of students for 10 minutes at the
"Peter Anich" Oberschule fuer Geometer, Bolzano, Italy
Thursday 14 March 2002 at 12:25 UTC
via Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, South Australia.
Transcription of Questions and Answers.
Peter: Hello International Space Station, hello Dan. Here is Peter, the coordinating teacher of the amateur radio station IN3JHZ of the Highschool for surveyors "Peter Anich" in Bozen, Northern Italy. We thank you for the involvement in this contact. And now the first question.
Hannes: Hello, I am Hannes. What is the most interesting scientific project you are working on at the moment? Over.
Dan: I think the most interesting scientific experiment we are working on now is about the way our nerves are controlling our muscles. We have seen a big decrease in the efficiency of our nerves, basically from our spine, to control our muscles and we are trying to quantify that. We try to see if there is anything we can do to combat this effect of zero gravity other than working out in space or exercising. If we can find some way to offset this effect that we see in space, hopefully it can help us in the future. Over.
Barbara: Hello, I am Barbara. How do you solve the technical problem of oxygen production? Over.
Dan: Yes Barbara, we use electrolysis. We also have oxygen tanks on board but in the Russian sector we have an electrolytic machine. It turns water into hydrogen and oxygen, we set the hydrogen over board and we use the oxygen on board. Over.
Erwin: Hello, I am Erwin. What is the average consumption of electrical power in Watts of the space station and how much of it do you need for heating the station? Over.
Dan: Erwin, we use about 16 kW on average. Our solar arrays produce much more than that but there are inefficiencies and moreover the batteries have a certain limit on how much they can take. About 3 kW are used for heaters, mainly for heating the shell of our modules because we want to prevent condensation on the inside of the space station. Over.
Andrea: Hello, I am Andrea. How much electrical power do the solar panels supply and what voltage is used on board? Over.
Dan: The solar panel flexes supply about 30 kW and the voltage we use is an interesting question: on the Russian side they use 28 Volts for the spacecraft, which is kind of a standard for a spacecraft and airplanes and on the US side we use 120 Volts. Over.
Marc: Hello, I am Marc. Which temperatures do you have inside the station and on the outside surface of the station, in the sun and in the shade? Over.
Dan: Yes Marc, inside the station we have about 26 degrees centigrade and on the outside the temperatures we see vary widely from plus to minus 250 degrees Fahrenheit and if I get my map right I think that is plus 120 degrees centigrade to minus 155 degrees centigrade. Over.
David: Hello, I am David. Are you exposed to ultraviolet or cosmic rays and what is the outside layer of the modules made of? Over.
Dan: Yes David, we are exposed to all of those. The outside station is primarily made of aluminum and some areas have several layers. That helps for any type of micrometeorite damage and it will help to stop any of that. Over.
Patrick: Hello, I am Patrick. What food and drinks do you have and how many meals a day do you have? Over.
Dan: Patrick, we eat 3 meals a day. Drinks we have, pretty much like anything you can get on earth: coffee, tea, juice, fruit drinks, breakfast drinks. We have a combination of US and Russian food. Sometimes we brought Japanese food on board. Definitely, we have a pretty much international cuisine. Over.
Evelyn: Hello, I am Evelyn. What is the lowest critical orbit above the earth and how often do you have to rise it? Over.
Dan: Hi Evelyn. Our orbit is about 200 nautical miles. Right now it is 217 nautical miles and it seems we need a burn at least every 3 weeks or so. I was on a shuttle mission where we were actually at 100 nautical miles but the space station would like to stay up about 200 or above. Over.
Alexander: Hello, I am Alexander. Which problems arise from the weightlessness for short term and for long term? Over.
Dan: Yes Alexander, the short term is basically you get sick to your stomach or you get a headache. On the long term we have a definite bone loss like olderly people do and also muscles suffer lack of use because we donít do exercise like on earth. Over.
Juergen: Hello, I am Juergen. What do you do in your freetime? Over.
Dan: Yes Juergen, we listen to music, we watch movies, we also have e-mails. Carl Walz brought an electronic keyboard and he also has a guitar. Over.
Hannes: Hello, I am Hannes. Do you have the same feeling of time as here on the earth? Over.
Dan: What we notice is that actually we now almost count the weeks instead of the days. When we first came on board we counted days and now we are counting weeks. Over.
Barbara: Hello, I am Barbara. How do you take a shower? Over.
Dan: Barbara, we use wet towels to kind of wipe ourselves off and then we use dried towels to get dry off. So we really donít have a real shower. Over.
Erwin: Hello, I am Erwin. What universal time do you go to sleep? Over.
Dan: We go to sleep at 21:30, thatís the same as 9.30 PM and we wake up at 06:00, 6 AM, and this is GMT or universal time. Over.
Andrea: Hello, I am Andrea. Is it noiseless inside the station? Over.
Dan: The sound is just fine inside the station. We have the pressure of 760mm and it is fairly noisy here, but in some places it is quieter. Outside of course it is basically noiseless, but when somebody is working outside, I can hear the banging outside the station. Over.
Marc: Hello, I am Marc. What is the relationship between astronauts like? Over.
Dan: Hi, the relationship between astronauts sometimes is like any other crew on an airplane, sometimes itís like roommates. We live very closely together for a long time. Over.
David: Hello, I am David. Which landscape is particularly beautiful seen from above? Over.
Dan: I can see coral reefs, we have coral reefs now, it is anything with high contrast, beautyful so red. Over.
Patrick: Hello, I am Patrick. How long does it take you to put on the astronaut suit? Over.
Dan: The astronaut suit for a space walk ... it takes about 30 minutes for a Russian suit, about an hour for a US suit. Over.
Evelyn: Hello, I am Evelyn. How do you get rid of the waste? Over.
Dan: loss of signal...