. 24/7 Space News .
Space station astronauts ham it up to inspire student scientists
by Staff Writers
Houston TX (SPX) Mar 15, 2016

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren participates in an amateur radio call with students while aboard the International Space Station during Expedition 45. Image courtesy NASA. For a larger version of this image please go here.

On Thursday, March 10, 2016 astronauts on the International Space Station logged their 1,000th educational contact with the ground. NASA astronaut Tim Kopra answered questions posed by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium in Grand Forks, North Dakota. No matter how many times it happens, talking directly with someone orbiting above the Earth remains a thrill for students.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) works through an international consortium of amateur radio organizations and space agencies in the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and Europe. Amateur, or ham, radio operators set up hardware on the ground and call NA1SS, the space station's radio call sign. The suspense is palpable as those on the ground await a reply from space.

A few students prepare and ask questions while hundreds of others, along with teachers, parents and members of the community, listen in from classrooms or auditoriums. The overall goal of this long-running experiment is to interest young people in mathematics and science, and inspire the next generation of explorers.

Crew members typically answer from 10 to 20 questions. These frequently touch on current research and life aboard the station, along with a wide variety of topics from emergencies, whether a human heart beats faster or slower in space, how food is stored on the station, whether astronauts ever get fresh fruit and vegetables, and what returning to Earth is like.

One participant from the 1,000th call asked Kopra what kind of experiments he was conducting on the space station.

"We have lots of different kinds of experiments," Kopra responded. "Many of our experiments have to do with the effect of zero gravity on the human body, because it can be hard on the body - our muscles, our bones and our eyes. We'd like to learn how to solve those problems so that we can stay healthy and go into deep space, perhaps go back to the Moon or Mars someday."

Another student asked what Kopra thought the future of amateur radio aboard the space station would be.

"Amateur radio is a great way for us to reach people on Earth, and try to share our experience when we can," Kopra said.

ARISS accepts student applications to connect with the station during specific proposal cycles in the U.S. and Europe, with an open application process in other regions. Schools partner with an Amateur Radio Club or a ham radio operator to provide and operate equipment while teachers commit to having their students study space- and communications-related topics, including how amateur radio works.

"Approved applications go on a waiting list with a proposed week for contact," explains Kenneth Ransom, ISS Ham radio project coordinator at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "About a month out from that week, we predict when the station will pass over to see what might work for the school. That list gets prioritized and sent to NASA planners who try to fit a pass into the crew schedule."

Fitting into the busy crew schedule can present a challenge. Setting up the antenna to receive and transmit radio signals also often proves challenging, and radio operators have braved snow storms and ice to do so.

But these efforts are worth it. Teachers report that talking with crew members in space inspires their students, and has launched many into space-related careers - including neuroscience, chemistry, physics, astronomy and engineering. The events bring entire schools and communities together. Many schools start amateur radio clubs after their ham radio experience.

Astronauts enjoy the contact as well. NASA astronaut Sunita Williams participated in events while a crew member on Expedition 32 in 2012.

"I get choked up every time I read a report about a Ham radio contact," she said at the ISS R and D Conference in 2015. "You go through the questions and it sounds like only 10 kids, then you read a report about how many people were at that event and how much preparation and time the kids took. It is nice to know it makes such a huge impact."

The speed at which the space station travels typically offers a window of about 10 minutes for contact, according to Ransom. The set-up varies at every ground station and so do the events.

"We call it an experiment, and sometimes experiments don't go the way we want them to," Ransom says. "We have had some that didn't work, for a variety of reasons, some that were spectacular successes and some that were marginal successes."

These 1,000 radio contacts have involved students from across the U.S., as well as 52 other countries from every continent and even a few islands.

Anyone with an amateur radio can listen in on scheduled contacts. Crew members on the space station also sometimes make general radio calls and talk to ham operators around the world.

Many ham contacts end with the earth-bound moderators saying, "We have shared a moment of history," and for the moderator of the North Dakota call, it was especially significant. Ham operator Charlie Sufana choked back tears as he closed the event.

"I had the luck of the draw to be the control operator for ARISS contact number one back in December 21, 2000," Sufana said in an emotional sign-off. "And once again, the luck of the draw allowed me to be the mentor moderator for the 1,000th contact. Here's to the next 1,000."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Johnson Space Center
Station at NASA
Station and More at Roscosmos
S.P. Korolev RSC Energia
Watch NASA TV via Space.TV
Space Station News at Space-Travel.Com

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Marshall supports 15 years of ISS science discoveries
Huntsville AL (SPX) Mar 13, 2016
In November 2000, NASA began a run of 15 years of continuous human presence in orbit on the International Space Station. Four months later, on March 8, 2001, a team of people at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, began to leave their own mark on discovery by starting around-the-clock support of scientific activities on the orbiting laboratory from Marshall's Payload Oper ... read more

China to use data relay satellite to explore dark side of moon

NASA May Return to Moon, But Only After Cutting Off ISS

Lunar love: When science meets artistry

New Lunar Exhibit Features NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Imagery

Europe, Russia embark on search for life on Mars

NASA targets May 2018 launch of Mars InSight mission

NASA Announces Winning Concepts to Further its Journey to Mars

Close comet flyby threw Mars' magnetic field into chaos

Planetary Science Institute funded for expanded education public outreach effort

Astronaut Scott Kelly to retire in April

NASA tests inflatable heat shield technology for deep space missions

Space shouldn't be exclusive domain of big nations: astronauts

Sky is the limit for China's national strategy

China to Launch Over 100 Long March Rockets Within Five Years

China's ambition after space station

Aim Higher: China Plans to Send Rover to Mars in 2020

Sticky, stony and sizzling science launching to space station

Marshall supports 15 years of ISS science discoveries

International Space Station's '1-year crew' returns to Earth

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko return to Earth after One-Year Mission

ILS and INMARSAT Agree To Future Proton Launch

Assembly of Russia's Soyuz Rocket With Earth-Sensing Satellite Completed

ISRO launches PSLV C32, India's sixth navigation satellite

Ariane 5 launch contributes to Ariane 6 development

NASA's K2 mission: Kepler second chance to shine

Star eruptions create and scatter elements with Earth-like composition

Sharpest view ever of dusty disc around aging star

Astronomers discover two new 'hot Jupiter' exoplanets

Total invisibility cloak an impossibility, scientists say

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests 3D printed injector in upper stage engine

Clothes of the future will adjust to the weather, body temperature

Super-clear synapses at super resolutions

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.