Technology Space emission. “What experiments are you going to have on tardigrades? And squid?”, Anthony and Evan ask Thomas Pesquet

Space emission. “What experiments are you going to have on tardigrades? And squid?”, Anthony and Evan ask Thomas Pesquet

A tartigrade, such as those studied aboard the ISS. (NASA / AMES RESEARCH CENTER)

Another week has passed in the ISS, and Thomas Pesquet is back in the podcast “The Space Show”. In this new episode, he answers questions about the refueling from the space station. But also to the experiments he will carry out on funny bugs, the tardigrades. Without forgetting the calamari!

It is Emmanuel who launches himself, on the supply: how the delivery is sent in space? And “Are you going out into space to pick it up?” Thomas Pesquet explains: everything goes through small rockets, “in cargo vehicles, small space capsules which come to fly very close to the space station. Afterwards, there are two possibilities: either the capsules come to dock themselves automatically to the space station, on automatic pilot. Then, we , we just have to open the airlock and we have our delivery. Either we have a robotic arm, you imagine, it’s an articulated arm, and we can grab the space capsule that is flying close to our station. hang it up ourselves at the station. And then we just have to open it. “

Zacharia is worried about the cotton plant on board the ISS. “In space, there is no oxygen, no water, no sun, no UV light.” Thomas reassures him: “Inside a space station, we have oxygen, we have no sun but we have light, by artificial lamps. And then, we have water which is particularly useful to us. to drink. With all that, we will be able to keep these plants alive. “ But the most complicated is weightlessness. “It’s a bit complicated: you have to maintain potting soil so that the plant does not fly away. To water it, the water floats. It’s like Captain Haddock’s scoop of whiskey. It doesn’t stay in the water. a container, in a bottle. So we inject it into the earth with syringes. And then, for the artificial sun, we put it in greenhouses. It makes a pink light, it’s pretty at night, to make it grow our plants “. All this is not just for the decoration of the space station! “When we want to go to Mars and go very, very far from the earth, we will have to grow our own plants. Fortunately we learn how to do it in the ISS.”

Anthony, and Evan want to know what experiments are going to be done on the tardigrades. “And the squids, too”, insists Evan. But first, what are tardigrades? “They are small microscopic animals, but they are super resistant. They manage to live in the vacuum of space. And that is incredible.” But what do we want to know? “What we want to do is take them into space and study that mechanism. How do they do it? What’s their thing about resisting everything? So we’re going to expose them to a very complicated environment, very difficult, extreme that is space. And then, we will look at their reactions. And then, if we learn their secrets, we hope to be able to apply that perhaps on Earth and to learn, us, to be more resistant, to s ‘adapt to environments that are not necessarily made for us “.

What about the calamari? “There, we are going to study the interaction between them and their microbes, in symbiosis. In the human body too, there are plenty of microbes and there are some that attack a little, but there are some that are a little beneficial . It’s important to understand what’s going on. So, we use these little squids as models and then apply the results to the human body. But it’s going to give us a whole menagerie on the space station. Luckily, they’re all there. miniatures “.

Baby squids such as those sent to the ISS.
Baby squids such as those sent to the ISS. (JAMIE S. FOSTER / UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA / NASA)

Jeannette would like to know if the astronauts can receive objects from her family or from students. “If so, how can we send them to you?” Thomas Pesquet explains that in the supply cargo ships, “There is always a tiny bit of space for packages for the astronauts. It can be a drawing, it can be chocolate. It can be an object that will make you laugh or that has a meaning for you.” But it is too late to prepare a new shipment: all the packages are already ready. “It takes a long time to prepare them, you have to send them to NASA, you have to put them in packaging that works well, and then, you have to send them to Cape Canaveral to put them on a rocket to go. in space … All that takes time “. So it’s too late this time. “But maybe for my next mission, you can send me items!”

On this page, you can listen to this new episode of Space emission, where astronaut Thomas Pesquet answers children’s questions about life aboard the ISS. A meeting to listen to every Saturday at 10:44 and 12:51 on the franceinfo radio and to find in podcast.

To have a class (elementary and middle school) participate in a recording of Space emission, subject to availability, contact the Radio France mediator.

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