Saturday, 28 December 2013

ISS for the Nobel Peace Prize

A project I am currently involved with is the ISS for the Nobel Peace Prize initiative. The International Space Station, or ISS is the largest peace-time endeavour in human history and a model for international cooperation. We aim to promote the ISS as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize and hopefully one day win the prestigious award.

15 nations formed the ISS Partnership with: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These nations worked together despite cultural and geographical differences to build, finance and launched the orbiting science laboratory and home. 

As the largest structure built by humans in space, it serves as a permanent outpost within the vacuum of space. Humans have lived peacefully in space everyday since the year 2000! Such a magnificent testament to  peace and cooperation both on Earth and in space is one that is worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize and it is the goal of the ISS for Nobel Peace Prize initiative to secure global recognition of this technological feat that has brought scientific and economic benefits to all partners as well as inspiring people across the globe to dream higher. 

Click here if you would like to learn more about how you can help to nominate the ISS for the Nobel Peace Prize and find us on social media sites Twitter and Facebook also. Follow the hashtags #ISS and #ISS4NobelPrize for more information.


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

Crew aboard the International Space Station decorate their quarters during the festive season (NASA)
Christmas aboard the International Space Station in 2007 (NASA)
Expedition 18 Astronauts Michael Fincke and Sandra Magnus tuck into Christmas cookies  (NASA)
Expedition 34 stockings for the six-man crew aboard the International Space Station during Christmas 2012. (CSA)
An upside down Christmas tree decorates the International Space Station during Expedition 34 in this photo taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (CSA)
Astronauts assemble in the Unity node of the International Space Station for a Christmas party on December 24, 2012. Pictured clockwise (from top right) are NASA astronaut Kevin Ford, commander; Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Roman Romanenko, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, all flight engineers. (NASA)
Christmas onboard the Mir Space Station during NASA 6. ViFlight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov, Mission Specialist David Wolf, and Commander Anatoly Solovyev pose with a santa doll in a Orlan suit, small tree, decked boughs, and floating presents. (Source: NASA)

While you're unwrapping your presents, watching Christmas movies and tucking into the roast potatoes/avoiding the brussel sprouts tomorrow spare a thought for the people living 250 miles above you orbiting the Earth. 

Currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) are Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins, Sergey Ryazanskiy, Rick Mastracchio, Mikhail Tyurin and Koichi Wakata who will be celebrating the festive season in true space style, a few examples of which I've shown above. The ISS has been continuously inhabited by humans for 13 years and in the Mir station prior to this therefore special holidays and birthdays are celebrated by astronauts in zero gravity, amongst the stars. 

Two astronauts are currently on a Christmas Eve spacewalk in an attempt to repair a part of the ISS cooling system. American astronauts Rick Mastracchio and Mike Hopkins are fixing the malfunctioning ammonia pump which developed problems on December 11th. The last Christmas Eve spacewalk took place in 1999 when Discovery astronauts Steve Smith and John Grunsfield spent more than 8 hours refitting parts of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Since the dawn of the Space Age, astronauts and cosmonauts have spent the Christmas season away from their loved ones, high above the Earth. Although, from their vantage point they may just catch a glimpse of the big man in the red suit and his reindeer flying across the sky!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas both in space and down on the ground. 

- Nikita

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Fairytale Science

"Once upon a time, a spacecraft named Rosetta was launched into the night sky and had a long journey ahead of her to uncover the mysteries of our solar system. "

The ESA Rosetta team have created this cute video that explains Rosetta's mission and the magic of space travel whilst personifying the spacecraft perfectly.

After 31 months of deep-space hibernation, on 20th January 2014 the comet-chaser will be waking up at 10am, 673 kilometres from the warmth of the sun. Without coffee.

If you would like to wake up Rosetta, record your video shout out and submit it in the #WakeUpRosetta contest here. Wake up sleeping beauty! 


Friday, 20 December 2013

Snapshots of the Universe

Is the best way to teach physics to kids to make them think that they're just playing a fun game? Sneaky, but effective. With children (and me) glued to their screens with addictive games such as Candy Crush and Minion Rush, why not inject some space education into the games market?

Stephen Hawking has gone to great lengths to promote science through traditional methods such as books and television however he has now entered the software arena to inspire young scientists. The theoretical physicist and Professor teamed up with Random House to create 'Snapshots of the Universe', his first official app.

The iPad app contains mini-games, videos and text that illustrate a plethora of fundamental space concepts. Ranging from learning about G-force with Einstein and putting planets into orbit to master the theory of relativity, the game presents physics and space in a fun and engaging way. Video explanations from Hawking himself are available for the user to delve further into the depths of space.

" Based on the work and writings of Stephen Hawking, this app teaches both adults and students the basic theories that govern our lives on Earth as well as the movement of the stars and planets. You can play and learn at the same time in each of the eight experiments included in Snapshots of the Universe:

- Spin planets in orbit with your own solar system
- Drop objects with Galileo to learn about gravity
- Let Einstein feel some G-force in outer space
- Search for black holes in the constellation of Leo
- Discover Einstein’s warped worldview
- Plus more…"

I think that games such as these are onto something. With increasing evidence on the declining attention span of the younger generation and their increasing ability to use technology such as iPads, teaching through games that encourage learning through entertainment may well be the future of teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Published by Random House, the app is available on iTunes for $4.99.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Meeting Chris Hadfield - An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth

He spent 5 months living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), orbiting the Earth and inspiring millions of us on the beauty, awe and wonder of space. Sharing YouTube videos, tweets and Facebook updates of everyday Earth routines performed in space (my favourite is here), stunning ISS-eye view photographs of the world below him, and recording modified David Bowie song 'Space Oddity' , Chris Hadfield has touched the minds and hearts of individuals across the planet. His down to earth nature in combination with his social media outreach skills have taken the world by storm. 

Soon enough, he has become the world's most popular astronaut and today I had the chance to meet him in person at a book signing event in London for 'An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth'. It was great to see so many people immersed in the pages of his book whilst in the queue. I even bumped into a few friendly faces from the International Space University(ISU) and chatted to people who were interested in joining the space industry and told them all about ISU,  it definitely is the place to go if you want to work in space regardless of your background.

Admittedly, I did get super nervous when I was near enough to hear his distinctly Canadian accent and see his infamous moustache, however once I was face to face with the legendary space man his immediate interest in who I was and what I was all about took me by pleasant surprise. I found myself babbling about my love of space to the one person I have looked up to all year and he even light heartedly agreed with me, as an astronaut should!

"My family and I love space"
"So do I!" 

Good one Chris :)

If you would like to meet Chris Hadfield and get your copy of 'An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth' signed by the man himself, be sure to check out his book tour dates here.


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Space Christmas Gift Guide - For Children

Have you ever noticed that most children are fascinated by space from a young age? 

When asked what they want to be when they grow up, they respond enthusiastically with the answer of astronaut and are fascinated by stars and exploring the universe until somehow this grows out of them as they get older and have to choose what they really want to be.

 It happens all the time and unfortunately the stereotypes that most toy manufacturers live up to aren't helping more children, in particular girls hold onto this enthusiasm later on in life.

I've suggested a few Christmas gifts for that starry-eyed child that you know which will nurture their love of space and create fond memories from which they will hopefully one day look back on as what inspired them to join the space industry!

(Clockwise from left to right) The Original Glow Stars Company 'Cosmic Glow Moon and Stars', Brainstorm Toys 'Space Explorer' room projector, The Space Store 'Junior Flight Suit', Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine, Astronaut Ice Cream 'Vanilla', Snurk 'Astronaut Duvet', LEGO City Space Shuttle, There's No Place Like Space! book, Toy Story 'Alien' toy.

- Nikita

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