feb 8 2015
Det är intressant att läsa hur astronauterna upplever alla dessa skolkontakter som pågår hela tiden. Vackra ord….
Yesterday, December 15, I had my first HAM radio contact with school pupils.
A big hello to the students of the schools “Elena di Savoia” in Bari and
“Alessandro Volta” in Bitonto! It was fun talking to you and thanks for the
Amateur radio contacts between astronauts and school kids have a long
tradition on ISS, thanks to a little army of volunteers in many countries
who work with the local schools not only on the day of contact, but also in
the weeks and months leading up to the event: they teach students about
radio technology and about space, to get them ready and hopefully excited
about the event.
From my side, I only needed to be ready on the proper channel at the proper
time: it is very important, because we need direct line-of-sight with the
amateur radio station on the ground and the pass is only about ten minutes
long. A couple of minutes before the expected acquisition-of-signal time, I
started making calls to check if someone was already picking me up.
Eventually I picked up a call from the ground station and sure enough, we
started our conversation. I heard them loud and clear, which positively
surprised me: somehow I expected signal quality not to be as good. I hope
they had the same quality on the other side.
On such contacts, there’s no time for small talk and formalities: in less
than ten minutes, we had to make sure that the 20 students who were lined up
to ask their question got their chance. So here I was, ready to go. And here
came the first question – are you ready? Here’s it is:
“ It is known that people become taller when they are in space. What happens
to bio-molecules? Is there any alteration in the tertiary structure of
I almost fell off my chair… well, if I had had a chair. (Wonder what a good
equivalent of this expression would be in weightlessness… any suggestions?)
Where are the good old question about space food and the space toilet? Jokes
apart, I was really impressed with all the questions: they showed a great
interest and knowledge in science and technology and gave me great hope for
our future generations of scientists and engineers. Keep up the great work,
girls and boys.
Samantha Cristoforetti – IZ0UDF