Jeremy Wilks, Euronews: “We are in Cologne, where there is the European astronaut center. This month we’ll tell you about the ISS module called the Columbus European research center in space. The last ten years, astronauts used it to conduct experiments. For example, they tried to grow plants in space, and even tried to develop new alloys of metals.”
Columbus – a home for astronauts
The first European space laboratory Columbus to the ISS prestimulus 10 years ago. In orbit, it was developed a special Shuttle. In this module likes to spend time astronaut Paolo Nespoli:
– For the European astronauts Columbus is home. When someone is on the ISS, he is responsible for Columbus, for the lab. This person should support the work of the module, to make sure that everything was in order.
Astronaut Leopold, Ayyar watched the installation of 10-ton module in 2008. For us he had a tour of the layout of Columbus.
– I was lucky to be part of this mission. I was the first European astronaut, who was inside Columbus and lit the light. It is a special place on the ISS. Inside the module all is well organized. This is a scientific lab, so there is a lot of scientific equipment. Microgravity is constant, so that we may conduct lengthy experiments, and therefore maintain continuous, consistent work.
Experiments in weightlessness
Experiments in space are able to give amazing results. An example would be the study of how plants live in conditions of weightlessness. Scientists want to create a system allowing people to grow food for astronauts who have to spend long hours in orbit.
Ann Irene Kitang Zhost, interdisciplinary Centre for space studies: “We can already grow plants in microgravity. Plants can adapt, can grow from seed, they are able to go through the whole life cycle and produce new seeds. Plants are well adapted to the conditions of weightlessness. And it is wonderful!”
In another experiment, the researchers observed how life forms from Earth feel outside of the module. For this purpose, organisms were placed in a vacuum. Some tanks were in the shade, some on the Sunny side. The experiment was conducted within one and a half years.
Elke Rabbow, German aerospace center DLR: “Three containers we found on the surface of the platform Expose-E. There were different life forms: bacteria, lichens, larvae. When the experiment came to an end, we saw that some microorganisms survived.”
The history of the ISS began in 1998. Then on orbit was launched the Russian module Zarya. Today, apart from Columbus, and am working with Japanese, American and Russian laboratories. The astronauts conduct a lot of experiments. Though sometimes they do experiments on ourselves. They watch what happens to their blood, brain, bones, muscles while staying in space. For example, have managed to establish that electrical activity and brain performance decreases. What is the reason – nobody knows.
Another team monitors the radiation level, which is for the astronauts in grave danger. During the Dosis3D experiment was able to show how the radiation level around the Columbus module.
Thomas Berger, head of group of researchers, the German aerospace center DLR: “the experience we hold for a long time. We have already had the opportunity to see how changed the radiation environment of the ISS was raised to 70 kilometers above. In addition, we saw that the role played by solar activity.”
Experiments in weightlessness are unique. Columbus is the only place where scientists can observe how the harden of new metal alloys, if they are not affected by gravity. The experiment was led by scientists from Earth, but they hope to help astronauts who are sent to ISS necessary data.
Thomas Volkmann, German aerospace center DLR: “the Astronauts installed the equipment, they can change the settings in the camera. For some experiments we need a camera with higher resolution, for other important high frame rate. And then we need the assistance of astronauts.”
We are waiting for the Moon and Mars
Cooperation between scientists on Earth and astronauts will continue for at least 10 years – while there is the ISS. Ahead – the study of the moon and Mars, and in this case help astronauts also invaluable.
Leopold, AAR: “On the International space station to prepare for further studies. Here you can study the reactions of the human body, to monitor the health of astronauts, and to develop new technologies, including in the field of robotics”.
The astronauts in their space house, in a small laboratory, promote big science.
Paolo Nespoli: “it’s Amazing that in a relatively small space of the module you can do everything that is connected with the science of space.”