Astronaut Chris Hadfield gives students an out-of-this-world lesson
Published Thursday, January 17, 2013 1:09PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 17, 2013 1:41PM EST
Some elementary school students in the Greater Toronto Area were given a different kind of science lesson Thursday when they chatted with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield from space.
Hadfield, who is on a months-long mission aboard the International Space Station, fielded questions during a video link chat with students from his hometown of Milton, Ont.
Twirling his microphone in zero gravity, Hadfield waved to the camera. He elicited loud laughter from the students when he crossed his arms and effortlessly floated about the room.
Students asked questions about Hadfield’s scientific space discoveries, the solar system and life aboard the space station. A second-grader wanted to know what the stars really look like in space so she “can draw them better.”
Asked what the coolest thing in space is, Hadfield said seeing the sunrise – which happens 16 times a day as the ISS orbits the earth.
“We sort of drive into the sunshine and the whole horizon suddenly glows beautiful orange and every colour in the rainbow and then the sun bursts up,” he said.
Hadfield told the students he and his fellow astronauts had yet to find other living things but said “we’ve been looking.”
“Even in just our galaxy, there are billions of stars so there are billions and billions of planets,” Hadfield said. “So it’s probably not that there aren’t other living things, it’s probably just that we haven’t found it yet.”
Asked what the hardest thing is about being in charge of the International Space Station, the commander conveyed the enormous responsibility that comes with space travel.
“I think the hardest part about being in charge is always being ready so that you can do the right thing when things go badly.”
Hadfield told students he and his fellow passengers must exercise two hours each day to stay healthy. He said the station is like a laboratory to learn about the human body, and he described what it feels like to adjust to weightlessness.
“My legs got really skinny up here in space because gravity’s not pushing the blood back down into my legs – there’s no extra fluid there,” he said. “But when I get home, it’ll all change again, and I’ll re-adapt to being an earthling.
“But right now, I’m a spaceling.”