Day 2 at Space Camp

After yet another tornado warning and siren sent them to the basement of the habitat (the dorm where the astronauts sleep) the Utahn astronauts awoke this morning ready and eager to eat some breakfast and begin their day.Once breakfast was finished, the astronauts were bussed off to Area 51 were they would experience a 32 ft. telephone which they would scale, then leap off of, with hopes of touching a nearby dangling rope. This creation is affectionately known as the Pamper Pole (potentially because it’s fear-inducing qualities may cause you to need a diaper?) and at 32 ft, beaming in the Alabama sun, it intimidated some of the Von Lions when they first arrived.

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20140429-131144.jpgFor the Charlie (third) mission, new positions were given and the Utahn astronauts were placed in their new roles. Aaron was named the Guidance Navigation and Control specialist (GNC) in Mission Control, Walker was named Flight Dynamics Officer (FDO), Meseret was placed in the International Space Station to do some science experiments and  and Ronnald was deemed the Flight Director for the mission! Aaron had to learn how to read weather patterns, determine velocity of a rocket and to measure altitude while the rocket works through its mission.

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Meseret is learning how to communicate with Mission Control via the monitors in ISS. Likewise, astronauts relay the results of their experiments to Mission Control while they work through their procedures. Currently, some of the most exciting results that NASA is obtaining every day are those relating to 3-D printing in Space! While Meseret won’t be printing any materials to fix the ISS, she will mix chemicals and figure out how reactions may occur in space.

Walker, as the Flight Dynamics Officer had the difficult job of measuring the usage of fuel during the flight. Same as in an airplane, as gas/fuel is burned off, the weight of the rocket changes, which affects lift, drag, thrust and gravity (the 4 forces of flight). Walker had to persevere and do a lot of calculating to keep the rocket smoothly obtaining and keeping its proper trajectory.
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Have you ever heard or read that monkeys went into space?!?! Yes, they have! On May 28, 1959 at 2:39am, Miss Baker (a squirrel monkey purchased from a pet store in Miami) and Able (a Rhesus monkey) went into space and spent 16 minutes (9 of which were weightless!) and flew to an altitude of 300 miles! They were not alone either, Miss Baker and Able were accompanied by fungus spores, human blood, e.coli, onion, mustard and corn seeds, the pupae of fruit flies, yeast and even sperm and eggs from a sear urchin! Their launch sent them from the launch pad in Cape Canaveral in Florida (known as Cape Kennedy from 1963-1973) and totaled 1500 miles which landed them in the ocean near Puerto Rico. Interestingly, many animals of various species preceded Miss Baker and Able in flight, but the monkeys’ resemblance to humans (especially at the genetic level) signified a just development in the space programs throughout the world. Another famous mammal to experience a rocket launch was Laika, a mutt dog found wandering the streets of Moscow, Russia! Laika was launched on November 3, 1957 (in attempt to “beat” the American space program’s development) in the Sputnik 2. Laika’s ascent into space (and Russian history) was earmarked though because 6 days into the mission, all electrical systems and operating systems failed and Laika died. There are rumors that Laika’s 4th day’s worth of food was poisoned so that Laika didn’t experience the system failure, but there is no certain record of it. Also, even if Laika and the Sputnik 2 had continued with their mission to orbit the earth every 1 hour and 42 minutes, ultimately the mission would’ve failed because in the rush to create an adequate shuttle resulted in completely failing to prepare Laika and the Sputnik 2 for re-entry!

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These pictures show Miss Baker and Able’s rise to fame, also documented in this news report.

Following their time with Miss Baker and Able, the Utahn astronauts learned how to separate oxygen and hydrogen in water via a process called electrolysis! After attaching aluminum foil (a conductor) to a tongue depressor, they put the strips of aluminum foil into their cup of salt water (and made sure that they weren’t touching because that would short out the battery they were about to attach!) and then using alligator clips, clipped the positive and negative ends of a battery to the aluminum foil. Because salt water is conductive, the electric current moved through the water and essentially the aluminum foil became a positive and negative terminal. The water bubbled and fizzed and the side which collected oxygen amassed bubbles on its surface.

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20140429-141704.jpgAfter approximately 20 minutes of bubbling and fizzing, the students removed the battery attachments and in their stead, clipped a multimeter to the aluminum foil. They then measured the electrical power that they had accrued in the water. As the water’s bonds “snap” back together, energy is created and can provide various amounts of electrical power for a laptop, fan or your iPhone!

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20140429-144043.jpgFollowing a hearty dinner to replenish their minds and bodies, the astronauts prepared for one of the most sought after, looked-forward to activities of Space Camp week – SCUBA! After an introduction on Sunday night, the Von Lions sat down for another briefing on scuba diving safety, hand symbols and the manual signs that they would use to communicate underwater. The Von Lions did an amazing job of paying attention and seemed mentally prepared, so that next obvious step was to hit the water! Approximately 15 minutes into the skills teaching, there was a phone call and a weather station reported a lightning flash within the mileage radius warranting the astronauts left the water. The Von Lions were patient while the lightning passed, and started a lecture on patrolling to prepare for their Escape and Evasion mission tomorrow night. When the lightning successfully left the area, the Von Lions were eager to get back in the water. The happy report for the Von Lions is that most of them learned the skills to go to the bottom of the 25 foot tank! The students learned to recover their regulator if it was knocked loose, to replace their mask if it was knocked or bumped, and to clear their mask if it had some water in it.

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20140430-152246.jpgWhen the students mastered the skills, they utilized those skills immediately by slowly lowering themselves to the bottom of the tank – then it was time to play! Ronnald stayed on the training platform at approximately 4 feet depth, and looked around while breathing underwater, and Aaron, Meseret and Walker made it to the bottom! They had a blast playing underwater basketball with a bowling ball!

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6 thoughts on “Day 2 at Space Camp

  1. I’m enjoying following your academic adventures. I am so proud of all of you and the great things you are learning and experiencing. The Pamper Pole sounds like fun! Hey, I have some diapers I can send out if needed. Ha.Ha. I can’t wait to see more pictures! HAVE FUN LEARNING!

  2. I remember having to climb the telephone pole in Wisconsin for club volleyball and our game plan was to pretend like we were squirrels and climb it quickly! Most of us stuck to the game plan, but there were a few of my teammates who freaked out! Glad the kids are experiencing so many amazing things and learning so much! Can’t wait to see pictures of the SCUBA session soon! Keep up the great picture taking!!! 😀

  3. This is so exciting to follow your adventures and see the pictures! I’m learning so much! Ya’ll must be exhausted. I’m sure you’re sleeping well. That is if you don’t get abducted by aliens during the night 😉

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