“How do you celebrate your birthday in space?” – Training Zone in action


Training Zone, the first round of I’m an Astronaut, is well underway, and everyone in the Zone certainly has the Right Stuff: 488 students have logged in, the Astro Support Team have answered 294 questions in ASK (like the one at the top), and all have enjoyed 13 fast-paced and insightful live chats, with more to come. They’ve even managed to deal successfully with an array of diverse time zones and the occasional fickleness of Antarctic communications networks; nothing can stop this intergalactic engagement train.

If you’re a teacher and want your class to talk to people like ESA flight directors Sergio, Libby and Simonspace engineer TomAntarctic research doctor Beth, plant scientist Anne, astronaut instructor Jon, and others who make human space missions possible, you can register for the next three zones at imanastronaut.uk/teachers.

Want to be a part of the Astro Support Team in the upcoming zones? Just email antony@gallomanor.com with a two line summary of how your work relates to the ESA Principia mission.

Yesterday, RAL Space engineer Tom was the first person evicted from Training Zone. Before things get even more super serious (relatively speaking) take a look below at some of what’s been happening in the zone….

Amongst the veritable galaxy of questions, the Astro Support Team have got to talk about:

Why Tim Peake is the main dude for the Principia mission.


In my opinion what impresses most about Tim is how kind and humble he is. He’s one of the few people in the world who will fly to space and stay there 6 months, and still he is so friendly and happy to learn from other people about their different expertise and specialties. I think that this makes him really special. – Sergio, Flight Director

The mental health of astronauts.

astro psychology

Part of the preparation is training with the Human Behavior and Performance team at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne. Our Antarctic crew also received this training. It taught us about each other and some of the challenges we could expect working in an isolated team for such a long period of time.

A lot of my research out here in Concordia is looking at the psychological effects of this experience on the crew. For example we make a weekly video diary which is analysed, wear watches which record where and with who we like to spend our time and how this changes over time. We are also doing a test every week which the astronauts on the ISS are also doing which looks at how quickly we can perform simple tests.Beth, research doctor

How humour helps when things go wrong.


No, I haven’t ever lost a camera in Space! Which is probably quite lucky, given how complex it is to get things up there and keep them in orbit.

I do have colleagues who have had their satellites blow up on the launch pad. I can only imagine how heartbreaking that must be. They made some jokes about not having to explain to the public why their experiment doesn’t work –Tom, engineer

Whether or not we should nuke Mars.


What you mentioned is a new idea about terraforming Mars: evaporating the Martian pole ice with nuclear bombs to create a thicker atmosphere and trap heat. However, I don’t think we know yet if it would really work and how many negative side effects there would be.
Some other options that have been mentioned to make Mars warmer are: using giant orbital mirrors, covering the poles in dark dust, using GM microbes, directing an asteroid to the planet to burn up in the atmosphere – Anne, scientist

 The religious views of aliens.


It’s possible, but not because they are religious. If they have limited technology – like humans had up until a few hundred years ago – it’s reasonable that they would come to the same conclusions we did, that everything (quite literally) revolves around them. However, if they have the same (or better) technology and can appreciate the size of the universe and everything in it, like us, it’s highly likely they’d be asking themselves the same questions that we do about what else is out there. – Jon, astronaut instructor

And that eternal question to which humans have been seeking answers to since they first looked up at the spangled night sky:


With my long hair and beard, I can only be Chewbacca! Roooaaar! – Sergio, flight director

Yoda – because the order in which he speaks words is a lot like how the German language is spoken, so it would be much easier for me to learn German – Jon, astronaut instructor

R2-D2! What about you? – Beth, ESA research doctor

I would be in preference Mace Windu it is cool to see his purple saber – Student

What, no Han? Sacrilege!

Phew, good job that’s it. Oh, what’s that? There’s another 3 days of the competition to go? With students voting every day for their fave Astro Support Team member? And at 3 pm each day one member of the Team will be evicted until two are left to battle it out for the win on Friday? Shiny!

Follow the nail-biting action over in the Training Zone, or at @IAAGMOOH on Twitter, where every new follower gets a free Space Pizza*!

*Free Space Pizza is non-transferable between Twitter handles and comes in GIF form
Posted on October 14, 2015 by in News. Comments Off on “How do you celebrate your birthday in space?” – Training Zone in action