Liftoff to Learning: Living in Space
Video Title: Living in Space
- Position and motion of objects
- Organisms and environments
Science Process Skills:
Subjects: Living in space.
Table of Contents
In many ways, living in space is not very different from living on Earth. In other ways, it is quite different. Astronauts in orbit above Earth must do the same things inside their spacecraft to live as we do on Earth. They have to eat, work as a part of a team, exercise, relax, maintain hygiene, and sleep. The only significant differences from living on Earth are that they operate in the confined space of the Space Shuttle orbiter cabin and that they, and all objects inside the cabin, float. Actually, floating is not quite the correct word to use because in order to float, astronauts have to have something to float on. The floating effect is called microgravity.
Microgravity refers to an environment in which the local effects of gravity have virtually been eliminated by freefall. For example, imagine that you and a friend are riding in an elevator car when the elevator cables break. As you plummet down the elevator shaft, you and your friend experience microgravity. In other words, you are falling together inside the car. This makes both of you appear to float.
Of course, gravity has not really gone away when you fall, but its effects inside the elevator car have. For example, what would the dial on a bathroom scale read if you could stand on it as you fall?
Because of microgravity on the Space Shuttle, some jobs become a little more difficult, like handling tools and fluids. If you are not careful, things will float away. Eating is also more of a challenge and so is going to the lavatory. Other jobs, however, become easier. Moving about is very easy and so is reaching the top shelf. Moving massive objects is very easy because they feel like they do not have any weight. But, once you get a massive object moving, you have to be able to stop it too. Otherwise, it will collide with the inside walls of your spacecraft with the same force you used to get it moving.
|Microgravity Through Falling
Colorful wooden bead (1-2 cm in diameter)
Several paper clips
You can show how objects appear to float by tying a wooden bead to a paper cup with thread and dropping them together. Assemble the demonstration as shown in the illustration above. Because of air friction, it may be necessary to add a few paper clips to the bottom of the cup to make it fall as fast as the bead. Hold the cup high in the air by the bead and drop it to the floor. Observe the bead and cup as they fall. Try letting go of the bead again, but this time hold on to the bottom of the cup. How does this demonstration show that freefall creates microgravity?
Atmosphere - The envelope of air surrounding Earth to an approximate distance of 160 kilometers.
Convection Oven - A small compartment in the Shuttle's kitchen in which prepackaged foods are heated with forced hot air.
Gravity - The attraction of all objects to one another due to their mass.
Microgravity - An environment, produced by freefall, that alters the local effects of gravity and makes objects seem weightless.
Satellite - (Artificial) A spacecraft that orbits around the Earth or some other large body in space.
Space Shuttle - The reusable space vehicle, consisting of an orbiter, external tank, and two solid rocket boosters, that carries humans and other payloads into Earth orbit.
Waste Collection System - The name for the toilet on the Space Shuttle.
To obtain biographic information, click on highlighted names