Many children find learning about astronomy, heavenly bodies and space exploration interesting. As a branch of science studying celestial objects and phenomena, astronomy provides them with more information about stars, planets, comets, galaxies and nebulae. In the case of actual space explorations, with astronomers working on space missions like the International Station Station project, astronomy allows kids to have a better understanding of how astronauts live in space and how this is different compared to life on Earth.
Space Station Construction
Apart from being the most expensive single object ever built, the world's International Space Station is the largest international scientific project, involving 16 countries spread over four continents. This project, which started in 1998, works as an orbiting laboratory and construction site in space. Its construction features a collaboration of about 100,000 people and hundreds of companies. According to the Houston Public Television website, the United States' participation in the project alone has already cost an estimated £62 billion. This is nearly equivalent to the combined expenses for all Apollo missions to the moon.
Space Station Operation
The International Space Station works as a research facility orbiting the earth about 250 miles from the ground. It measures 290 feet in length and 356 feet in width and weighs more than 1 million lbs. Operating through solar power, it serves as a platform for Earth and space observation. Here, scientists also conduct various experiments that can further benefit life on Earth, such as the creation of new materials and pharmaceutical products that can only be developed in microgravity. Microgravity refers to a very weak gravitational pull. While weightlessness is experienced by astronauts in a space station or an orbiting spacecraft, there is actually a very small gravitational force still affecting them. The International Space Station is also an ideal location to study different chemicals and elements outside the effect of Earth's gravity. These studies aim to provide treatments for many diseases and conditions including cancer.
Drinking and Eating in Space
Those involved in the International Space Station project reveal much about how humans can live and work in space. Through their experiences, the crews learnt that the sense of taste decreases while in space. Since there is limited water available in the station, compared to the considerably endless source of water on Earth, every drop of water is very precious when living in a space station. An astronaut drinks liquid by sipping it using a straw from a tightly sealed container. Space foods are generally very similar, if not exactly the same, as meals eaten on Earth. They are stored in plastic containers and they are typically consumed by adding cold or hot water, while others can be heated in an oven.
Sleeping in a Space Station
Sleeping in space requires small sleeping bags in the space station's sleeping compartments. The body must be strapped loosely to a sleeping bag to avoid floating around while asleep. In space, astronauts feel physically the same way no matter what direction they face during sleep; the concept of laying on one's back or face down on the bed doesn't exist in space due to microgravity. Astronauts are also supplied with eye masks and earplugs, helpful to those unable to sleep due to the lighting conditions in the space station or the noise coming from air conditioning and other machine operations.
- Canadian Space Agency: International Space Station Facts and Figures
- ESA Kids - Life in Space: The International Space Station
- Kids Connect: International Space Station
- European Space Agency: Living in Space - Washing Up
- Houston Public Television: Ten Surprising Facts About the International Space Station
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency: Life in Space