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Space Team Online QuestChat

Date: April 15, 1999

Featuring: Debra Reiss-Bubenheim
Project Manager/Scientist
Life Sciences Division
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 08:37:36 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Space Team Online chat with Debra Reiss-Bubenheim from NASA Ames Research Center will begin at 9:00 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time. Be sure you have read Debra's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/team/reiss.html before joining this chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 08:37:59 ]
Once the chat begins, Debra will attempt to answer as many of your questions as quickly as she can, but PLEASE be patient. Today's chat may be MODERATED to help Debra keep up with our questions. This means that only a few questions would be posted to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on your screen immediately during moderation. They will be held in our chat queue and posted as Debra answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 08:38:21 ]
Remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided before posting messages to the chat room. Once you've done this, please let us know that you have logged on for today's chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 8 - 08:38:39 ]
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to let us know what you thought about it. For your convenience, you may use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 08:50:58 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Space Team Online chat with Debra Reiss Bubenheim from NASA Ames Research Center. Debra spends most of her time working with scientists, engineers, and flight operations staff on different experiments being developed for space shuttle missions and the future International Space Station. She is currently working on a project for the upcoming STS-93 mission. The project will focus on how microgravity effects how the brain develops and communicates with muscles in the body.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 08:51:17 ]
And now, here is Debra Reiss-Bubenheim to answer your questions.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 13 - 08:55:22 ]
RE: [StephanieandJenna/BarlowVincentSchool] As a junior high school student, what did you most want to be and who was your favorite author? Did you have any favorite books?
Hi Stephanie and Jenna, Actually, I was really never in "junior high". The school system in Philadelphia where I grew up had just elementary school (up to 7th grade) then 8-12 in high school, it was like being a freshman twice!! Anyway, I was in a "college block" curriculum, because college was my goal and I was interested in science courses even then.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 16 - 08:57:12 ]
RE: [ChrisandJoey/BarlowVincentSchool] How many years of college (total) do you have? What was your favorite course in college?
Hi Chris and Joey, I have 4 years of undergraduate work (BS degree) and 2 years graduate school (Master's degree) for a total of 6 years.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 17 - 08:58:35 ]
RE: [JoeyandSteve/BarlowVincentSchool] Who or what inspired you to pursue your career in science? Did you have a dream of working with NASA from an early age?
I was always interested in science and was inspired by the Apollo missions and to this day remember my mom getting us up out of bed to watch the first lunar landing, that was inspirational!!

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 20 - 09:00:57 ]
RE: [JoeyandSteve/BarlowVincentSchool] In your work with NASA, what has been the greatest moment that ever happened to you?
Joey and Steve-- Meeting the shuttle astronauts is always exciting! I have had the privledge of training crew members about our life sciences experiments. Then, when the mission is underway and the hardware and operations are performing without a hitch, then I feel a sense of accomplishment that the investigator's experiment is being performed well!

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 23 - 09:02:17 ]
RE: [MattandfWillie/BarlowVincentSchool] Are you ever in danger as you are performing experiments?
Matt and Willie, No, I'm not in danger because I am a ground support person, I have not trained as an astronaut so I'm pretty safe in the lab.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 25 - 09:04:16 ]
RE: [Ozan] I'm a senior at a high school getting ready to go to college. I'm planning to get a Bachelors of Arts degree in Astronomy. Would it be a disadvantage for me to get a bachelors of arts instead of bachelors of science if I want to work in NASA?
I'm not that familiar with individual astronomy programs, but if you have a choice, I think the science degree would open more doors for you and appears stronger on job applications.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 27 - 09:06:08 ]
RE: [ChadandMalcolm/BarlowVincentSchool] Do you think you will ever have the opportunity to go into space to perform any of your experiments?
Hi Chad and Malcolm, I would have to go through extensive training to become a payload specialist and then to actually get the opportunity to fly. If I could just "beam" up, then I would! But, for now, I'm content to train others and manage the experiment from terra firma.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 30 - 09:10:09 ]
RE: [Ozan] Why is it that always drosophilia are used in experiments such as your microgravity experiment? Aren't other animals suitable?
Good question. For this particular experiment, the investigator in interested in specific motor neurons and their development in space. He's proposing the hypothesis that the microgravity environment will alter the development of the nerve endings and the development of the central nervous system (CNS). He has actually developed this strain of fruit fly in his lab for this mission. It fluoresces or "glows" green and the neurons can be seen under a fluroescent microscope when the fruit fly larvae return from space. We try to fly the appropriate species for the scientific question being asked. Drosophila are ideal for space flight since their life cycle can be easily manipulated by controlling the temperature in which they develop.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 32 - 09:13:51 ]
RE: [Ozan] Since I'm a non-US citizen, I am not eligible to be a mission specialist or a pilot abroad a space shuttle. How hard is it to become a payload specialist?
Ozan, Does your country of origin have a space program? We work with many other space agencies around the world and we have also flown foreign astronauts. With the International Space Station becoming a reality, there will be a lot of international cooperation and astronauts will be selected from around the world. It's an exciting time to be preparing for a career! Your second question, yes, I think that having the science degree is important. Many astronauts have multiple degrees in different fields and many are pilots. They are amazing individuals and enjoy challenges.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 33 - 09:14:22 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Good morning. Sorry we are late. Could not get carrier signal (bad phone plug). Some third graders who have never chatted are here. :-)
Always a pleasure, Mrs. Mock. As you can see, Debra already has her hands full with many questions this morning. We'll do our best to answer your class' questions, too!

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 37 - 09:19:36 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Why would a microgravity environment alter the development of the nerve endings of drosophila? Does the microgravity environment have the same effect for humans that travel to space?
Ozan, Yes, the nervous system is always changing and adapting, especially to new environments. The investigator will be looking at the very early development with the fruit fly model in the eggs and larval development to see if the neurons develop correctly to their target muscles. This has implications for long-term space travel potentially.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 39 - 09:20:51 ]
RE: [Steven3grade/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What do you do for future flights on ISS?
Hi Steven, We are developing new hardware that will support plants, animals, insects and cells for experiments on the space station.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 41 - 09:22:18 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Unfortunately, the country where I live, Turkey, doesn't have a space program (and I don't think we're going to have one any time soon). Since becoming a U.S. citizen is very difficult for me, how would it be possible for me to be an astronaut?
Well, Ozan, you might consider US citizenship or also look into the European Space Agency (ESA). If this is your dream, then you will find a way to do it!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 43 - 09:25:55 ]
We'd like to remind you to share your thoughts with us at the conclusion of today's chat. You may visit our online feedback page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys to provide your comments to us.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 45 - 09:27:15 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Do you think that the ISS is really necessary? I've read that billions of dollars are being spent on it mainly by the American Government. Don't you think that we need to give more importance to issues like preventing famine or trying to find non-fossil fuels before spending money on not-so-urgent issues like the ISS?
Ozan, Another good question and it is one that NASA must address often, even for shuttle flights. Our mission at NASA is to explore space. This has been an interest and fascination of human kind since the first humans gazed at the stars. We always want to explore new frontiers to better our existence here on Earth. All of the issues you mention are certainly important, but the cooperation between many nations will produce some outstanding advances in technology, medicine, material sciences, engineering, etc that will have direct application for those of us on Earth. I really believe this.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 47 - 09:30:10 ]
RE: [NickD/3grade/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What is a Drosophila fruit fly?
Hi Nick, A fruit fly likes to eat and lay it's eggs on rotting fruit. Have you ever left a banana laying around for a long time until it's black? Fruit flies seem to find rotting fruit and go wild with it. They also have red eyes. If you go to the web page about the experiment, there might be a picture of one. Or you could look it up in a book about insects.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 49 - 09:31:42 ]
RE: [Michael/3grade/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What was your favorite thing in science?
Michael, My favorite thing in science was studying living things like plants and animals. My science degree is in plant science. I liked classes where you get to grow plants or animals and to touch them.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 52 - 09:34:05 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Keeping in mind that the microgravity environment has effects on the development of nerve endings for drosophila, what would happen if a zygote were to develop in space? Do you think the outcome would be a normal human being?
Ozan, The changes may be very subtle and it is unknown if all body systems or functions or genetics would be affected. We have flown quail eggs, fish eggs, insects, and frog eggs on short flights without abnormalities so far, but we must fly living things for long duration flights to look at the impacts, if any, of long exposure to space flight.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 54 - 09:36:12 ]
RE: [Bobby/3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What was the first animal sent into space?
Bobby, The first animal sent into space was a dog. It was sent into space by the Russians first to see if it would survive since we didn't know much about space back in the 1950's and 60's. The Russians also sent up monkeys, too, before people.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 56 - 09:37:57 ]
RE: [John/3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Have you ever sent a chimpanze up in space alone?
Yes John, the Russians have sent up monkeys and NASA has also flown Rhesus and squirrel monkeys. We haven't flown any recently, though.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 59 - 09:39:25 ]
RE: [Leslie/4grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Have you ever flown a space shuttle without a piolet in it?
Leslie, Most shuttle missions have a commander (who's in charge of the mission) and a pilot, just like on an airplane. There are also mission specialists who are scientists or engineers and are career astronauts and payload specialist who just fly one mission.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 60 - 09:40:21 ]
RE: [Leslie/4grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Have you ever wathced roket man?
Leslie, Yes, both sons and I have watched Rocket Man, it was a pretty silly movie!

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 63 - 09:43:33 ]
RE: [John/3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] How long does it take to make a landing craft?
John, It takes a few years from the design of any spacecraft until it flies. There are a lot of tests that have to be done on the ground first before it can go into space.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 68 - 09:47:35 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] I've really wanted to learn this for a long time: Why did astronauts plant the U.S. Flag on the moon after landing on it for the first time in the history of mankind? Don't you think a flag of the United Nations would have been more appropriate to avoid declaring the moon as the property of the nation who went up there first ?
Oran, The late 1960's were a turbulent time between the USSR and the US as far as the cold war and the space race. Then President Kennedy had given a challenge to Americans to send a man to the moon and safely return him by the end of the decade of the 60's. There was a lot of patriatism about the Apollo flights and a lot of competition with the Soviets to see you would get to the moon first. If we go to Mars, it will be on a cooperative, international flight since no one country has the resources to do it alone and I think a UN flag would be more appropriate in today's political climate.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 73 - 09:50:01 ]
RE: [Leslie/4grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What kind of food do you eat in space?
Leslie, The astronauts can pick the kinds of foods that they like. Sometimes, if they are part of a nutrition study, they have to eat certain foods, but they pretty much can choose what they like. They have a refrigerator and microwave on the shuttle. Space affects your taste buds so astronauts like to eat spicier foods. They also take candy like M&Ms with them.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 75 - 09:50:50 ]
RE: [Michael/3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] How many light years is the moon away from Earth?
Michael, The moon is only 3 days away from the Earth by spaceship.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 77 - 09:53:24 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Why can't some astronauts walk for a certain period of time after they have returned from space? Do you think that a longer space flight (like a flight to Mars) would cause serious injuries in astronauts?
Ozan, Due to the lack on gravity on bones and muscles during missions, the muscles and bones become weaker, so when astronauts or cosmonauts return to Earth, they are dizzy and have difficulty walking until their bodies readapt to 1G. This is why we must continue to study the effects of microgravity on the body for long missions. Is there a point where you won't be able to come home??

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 78 - 09:55:14 ]
As we near the end of today's chat, we would once again like to remind you to share your comments about today's chat with us, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 79 - 09:56:11 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Thanks for answering so many questions. Do you believe in astrology? Don't you think that we should be seeing articles about astronomy instead of horoscopes in popular newspapers or magazines?
I must admit, I do read my horoscope, but don't put much stock in it. I think that we are seeing more articles in popular magazines since the Mars Rover, the Hubble telescope and the Glenn flight have made space interesting to people again.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 80 - 09:59:20 ]
RE: [Leslie/4grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What was your favorite subject in 3rd and 4th grade? What was the most memorable thing that you loved the best in school?
Leslie, My favorite subjects in 3rd and 4th grades (after recess!) were English and Math. I first wanted to be a teacher. But in my NASA job I still get to teach astronauts and I get to talk to students like you about space.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 81 - 10:00:41 ]
RE: [Michael/3grade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What was the name of the first air craft you sent up in space?
Michael, Alan Shepard was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth in a Gemini capsule.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 86 - 10:04:08 ]
RE: [John/3grade] What planets have your people in NASA been on?
John, Astronauts have only been to the moon so far. We have sent unmanned crafts to Mars and Jupiter.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 87 - 10:05:16 ]
RE: [MrsMock] Do you know BJ Navarro?If so do you do the same kind of job as she did on Neuron?
Mrs. Mock, Yes, I work with BJ and we are good friends. I was involved in the small payloads program, so I didn't work directly on Neurolab.

[ DebraReissBubenheim/ARC - 88 - 10:06:40 ]
RE: [Leslieandcompany] Thank you for chating with us you really liked it.It is really an education for preschoolers and up to collage people.
Thanks everyone for your questions, it was a pleasure to share my experiences with you. Keep learning as much as you can about math and science. There are jobs that haven't been invented yet that you will be doing in the future!!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 93 - 10:17:05 ]
RE: [Ozan/UskudarAmericanAcademy] Oran, ok. Thanks for hosting the chat, it really helped me.
You're welcome, Ozan. Have a good day! We hope you can join us for our next Space Team Online chat on Monday, April 19, with Andrew Petro from NASA Johnson Space Center. We also invite you to join us on Wednesday, April 21, for our chat with Joe Delai from NASA Kennedy Space Center. Be sure to read Andrew's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/team/petro.html and Joe's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/team/delai.html in order to prepare your questions. Check the Space Team Online chat schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/chats to learn more about these chats. Also check our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events to learn about other upcoming chats with NASA experts.


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