• Question: how long have you been/helped an astronaut? and what do you know about solar prominences?

    Asked by Xxx_marshmelloman_xxX to Anne, Beth, COLFlight, Jon, Tom on 6 Oct 2015.
    • Photo: Columbus Flight Directors

      Columbus Flight Directors answered on 6 Oct 2015:

      Hey Marshmelloman!
      Ive been working in Human Space Flight since 2001, which is a quite along time for working for astronauts ;-). However in my current job as Col Flight I get to work really close with them! When Im an Increment Lead I get to talk to them a lot before their mission about the experiments and activities they will do. During the mission we tag up once a week in a private conference to discuss how things are going and to identify if there is anything we can do on the ground to make things easier for them in space. When we work shifts (and especially at weekends) we also may talk to the crew directly when they are performing experiments or maintenance: They or we may have questions as they progress through their procedures!

      Solar prominences: Solar storms/prominences can be an issue for us if they are directed toward Earth. In the least impacting case it could mean the reset of certain equipment on-board in the worst case it may mean that the crew have to go to the safe haven in the ISS (in the Russian Module) or even leave the station but that so far has never happened. Because ISS is so close to the Earth, it is still pretty well protected by the Earths magnetic field. It would be a different story if there was a crew on the Moon or Mars! A Solar storm would be much more serious for the crew….

      What do you know about Solar prominences?

      I’m a bit younger than Simon, so I haven’t been working for so long! I’ve been working in human spaceflight since 2006.
      Before starting to work for the space station, I was studying and designing systems to grow plants on Mars. Yes, exactly like Mark Watney in “The Martian” movie! But we were not only growing potatoes, we also had tomoatoes, lettuce, beans and many other vegetables!

    • Photo: Jonathan Scott

      Jonathan Scott answered on 6 Oct 2015:

      I’ve been working at the European Astronaut Centre since April 2014. I work in the Space Medicine Office, where our job is to ensure astronauts stay healthy and physically fit before, during and after their missions to space.

      I don’t know much about the physics of solar prominences I’m afraid, but as COLFlight mentioned, their effects could be serious for astronaut health, so we need to better understand if/whenwe can predict when they are going to happen and what we can do to protect astronauts from them or treat astronauts if there were to be exposed to one.

    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 14 Oct 2015:

      Hey Marshmelloman!

      I’m a newbie as I have only recently graduated from medical school! I started working for ESA after finishing my first two years working as a junior doctor which was last August. I arrived in Antarctica last November so almost a year ago!

      I think the guys have already covered Solar Prominence’s 🙂