Astronauts on space station see the sunrise and sunset 16 times a day. On Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011, astronaut Ron Garan used a high definition camera to film the sunrise as space station flew along a path between Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Gravity is a constant force on Earth and cannot be controlled or removed. Experiments are affected totally by this force. Space station creates the only environment where lab experiments can be conducted without the effects of gravity. By studying the behavior of fire in zero-g, for example, scientists can gain better understanding of fire safety on and off of Earth and come up with ways to improve liquid fuels on Earth. Play with fire, then!
Astronaut Don Pettit, the same man who created the exquisite photo collection “Star Trails”, writes in “Diary of a Space Zucchini” about the trials and triumphs of the zucchini and his two new crewmates: sunflower and broccoli. Head to blogs.nasa.gov to find out who wins and who is floating solo.
A football field
Now, every time you look at a football field, you can remember that it is about the same size as the International Space Station that orbits 220 miles above Earth (that distance is about 880 laps around an Olympic-size race track.)
Alan Shepard was the first American to reach space in 1961. He peed in his spacesuit while waiting for launch. “Maximum Absorbency Garments” were created to resolve such situations in the future. But once in space, on station, there is a space toilet. It is pretty much like a toilet on a plane—relying on airflow to collect and retain liquid and solid matter. What is different about a space toilet is that the air used to direct the waste is returned to the cabin after being filtered, that is, it is recycled. Waste is stored and removed upon landing, but first exposed to vacuums that kill bacteria and pathogens while controlling odor. There, the topic everyone wants to discuss but no one wants to ask.
This small rose was grown on Space Shuttle Discovery to determine whether a rose grown in space would smell as sweet as one grown on Earth. It turns out that it does. Volatile compounds are what give a flower its aromatics, and these compounds, like most terrestrial things, behave differently in space.
“The fragrance that it did generate was critically altered. The flower in space had a more ‘floral rose aroma.’”
The flower was grown in the ASTROCULTURETM plant growth chamber. The astronauts touched the rose with a tiny silicon fiber and returned the sample to Earth. There, scientists took the fiber and analyzed the molecules to discover that “the rose’s scent was so different from anything earthly that International Flavors & Fragrances (who conducted the research with NASA) commercialized the new fragrance … ‘space rose’…
Stars streaming with colorful lights. NASA astronaut Don Pettit uses his down time to take creativity to new heights with his ongoing collection of photographs showing star trails beam with colorful light across Earth’s atmosphere. See a gallery of star trails or turn your gaze here:
This is what the northern lights looks like from the other side of the sky. If you’ve even seen the auroras, you know that they dance across the sky. From space station, they dance across the surface of Earth’s atmosphere.
The International Space Station…
From Earth! Many people don’t know that you can actually see the International Space Station from Earth with your naked eye. Next to the sun and moon, it’s the third brightest object in the sky. With NASA’s new app, ‘Spot the Station’ you can get alerts on your mobile phone of where and when you can spot station near you. It has 50 million downloads as of April ’13 and its elapsed movement looks like this:
This image of North America shot from space captures giant fields of burning natural gas outlets in North Dakota called the Bakken formation. The output of drilling has doubled in the last two years making North Dakota the second-largest producer of oil in America behind, you guessed it: Texas!
Now that fracking technologies have advanced, the can dig away. But every once in a while, space station will be watching.
Whisky. Or in this case, space-aged Scotch whisky
An experiment to age whisky onboard the International Space Station is underway using Scotch from Ardbeg Distillery who aims to extend the flavor spectrum of their product by aging it for two years in zero-gravity. They are working with U.S. based research group, NanoRacks, to conduct a first-of-its-kind experiment that studies the interaction of microorganic compounds with charred oak—on Earth and on station.
The vials left Earth in 2011 tucked within the cargo of astronauts and made their way into space. The compounds, called “terpenes,” are know to be abundant in nature and richly aromatic. By aging them with oak and other complementary molecules at NanoRacks’ facility in Houston, scientists can monitor molecular progress while the samples on station continue to mature for another year or so (targeted duration for aging is currently two years.)
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