Mike enthrals students from space Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Jan 7 Edward Michael Finke, the NASA astronaut, who is popularly known as Mike Finke, today enthused the schoolchildren of the citys Axam Jatiya Vidyalaya by talking to them from the International Space Station (ISS). The Space Station is rotating round the earth at a distance of 350km. This is for the first time in the country that school students talked to someone aboard the ISS. The International and Indian chapters of the Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters (FASS), in association with the NASA, coordinated the event.
In the conversation that lasted for ten minutes since 1-31 pm, 14 students took part and Rector of the school Ranjit Narayan Deka initiated the conversation with a brief introduction of the school and himself.
Mike, 41, answered the questions of the Jatiya Vidyalaya students with warmth. He also answered a question in Assamese stating that he had a working knowledge of spoken Assamese.
The questions of the students included what is the difference in environment inside and outside the spaceship, how the quality of air is maintained inside the spaceship, do those in the spaceship lose sense of direction in zero gravity, among others.
Mike told the students, among others, that outside the ISS there was vacuum, darkness and cold, while inside, it was comfortable. Temperature inside the ISS is maintained at 24 degree Celsius, he said.
He also informed the students that the ISS orbits the earth every 90 minutes and those inside the ISS were confronted with 16 sunrises and equal number of sunsets in a day. The occupants of the ISS cannot take showers and by using body wipes they use to keep themselves clean. They also recycle their urine to make water, Mike said.
Many man-made structures on the earth and seasonal changes taking place on the planet are visible from the Space Station, he said.
Prior to the conversation, NASA officials talked to the Rector and students of the school and the office-bearers of FASS, India present on the occasion, for half-an-hour to fine-tune the programme. Ranjit Narayan Deka told Mike that about 1,000 people including the members of the school community, guardians of the students and All Assam Students Union leaders, assembled on the school campus on the occasion.
After the conversation was over, FASS India Secretary General Bidyananda Barkakoty made a power-point presentation on the space expeditions made to carry on research activities in the ISS. He also spoke as to how 16 nations built the ISS in outer space with complete concentration since 1998.
The ISS is a space-based research station for carrying out research in biology (including bio-medical research and biotechnology), physics (including fluid physics, materials science and quantum physics), astronomy (including cosmology) and meteorology. So far, an amount of US $ 100 billion has been spent on it and it has got only about 76 per cent of its designed structure. The rest part of the ISS, that is, 24 per cent, is scheduled to be completed by 2011, said Barkakoty.
So far, 167 persons have visited the ISS. Of them, six are space tourists. The latest being Richard Garriott, who has paid US $ around 30 million for the visit, Barkakoty said.
The ISS is one of the most complex and largest scientific laboratories man has developed so far, he said.
He also elaborated how the astronauts undertake space walks for the benefit of the members of the gathering.
FASS international chairman-cum-managing director Rajen Barua said in a message from USA, when English medium schools are mushrooming, even in the remote villages of Assam, at this time, Axam Jatiya Vidyalaya is a live example of how even today a vernacular medium school can compete and excel.