"[NASA's First Science Officer] Writes Home about Life in Space" Whitson, Peggy (2002)
"[NASA's First Science Officer] Writes Home about Life in Space"
Peggy Whitson (2002)
SITE SUMMARY: In October 2002, NASA's first Science Officer astronaut wrote letters to earth from the International Space Station. Two letters, numbered ten and eleven, with selections reproduced on this Web site, were first published on October 31, 2002 by the Mount Ayr Record News, a newspaper in the Iowa town where she was born and where she went to high school. In these letters, Whitson wrote about her work on the International Space Station and of her being chosen as the U.S. Space Program's first science officer.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AND ACTIVITIES
- What is something that happens to people in space physiologically and why, according to Whitson?
- Why does Whitson think she and fellow astronauts will not gain weight although there is concern that they might?
- Why does Whitson compare a space capsule with a car?
- What is the Inventory Management System? Why is it useful? How might you adapt it and use it?
- What, to Whitson, is one of the most striking things about the structure of the international space station (ISS)? What happens to these things during the sunrises and sunsets that the ISS experiences, and what happened to them when the Progress supply ship was coming to the ISS?
- How does Whitson describe the arrival of the Progress supply ship as the unmanned spacecraft approaches the ISS? Optional Activity: Consider how, then write an essay about, some scientific principles that may be seen in the approach of the Progress ship. (Hint: Think physics, and study the online documents and Web sites on Isaac Newton and his works, whose urls can be found in this book's Appendix J.)
- What was one thing that Whitson and fellow ISS inhabitants were concerned about receiving from the Progress supply ship? What do you think this situation suggests for living in space? (Option: For hints, see the Web site for the Space Island Project whose url is cited in this book's Appendix I.)
- What does Whitson say is "a key element to success" in space? Which example did she give? Can you think of another?
- Which tasks does Whitson say are interesting and fun to do?
- With which well-known science fiction media franchise, and particular aspects of it, did Whitson compare her situation? How and why? Tell why you think these comparisons are both interesting and significant. (Hint: For help, see Web sites referred to in this book's chapters that feature documents by David Batchelor and Lawrence Krauss.)
- See other excerpts from one of the letters referred to above, as provided in the Web document "Expedition Five Letters Home" whose url is provided in the Related Internet Sites section below. First, what did Whitson do "on the payloads front" and why was it important that she did things exactly as she did them? Next, what did she photograph and what did she observe about them? What did she and fellow cosmonaut command the ISS computer to do, which metaphor did she use and to what was she referring? What are FOD and what did they have to do with this? How were a robotic arm and a camera involved?
RELATED INTERNET SITE(S)
NASA Names First ISS Science Officer, September 16, 2002—Press Release
On Peggy Whitson, an astronaut and a biochemist, being named the first Science Officer of the International Space Station, her qualifications and experiences, viewpoint, plus immediate and follow-up duties, that support her being given this designation. What she is doing and what future science officers may do on the space station (even in a similar way when the space program continues after probes into the Columbia shuttle tragedy) are also indicated.
NASA Biographies—Astronauts—Peggy Whitson—January 2003
"Expedition Five Letters Home"—Number Ten Excerpts—by Peggy Whitson
In these excerpts from the letter that was written on September 20, 2002, note paragraphs not given in the selections provided by the Mount Ayr Record News.
Philly Youngsters Meet Astronaut Peggy Whitson Via Ham Radio
In this reproduction of the November 1, 2002 newsletter of the Amateur Radio Transmitting Society (ARRL), information is provided on NASA's first Science Officer speaking via ham radio to students of the Spruce Hill Christian School of Philadelphia and telling students about life in space and of living in a microgravity environment.
STS-113 Crew Post-Landing Press Conference on 8 December 2002 (audio file)
http://insideksc.cjb.net:8081/wwwroot_45/PICS/KSC/sts-113/STS-113.Pos (or link at http://insideksc.cjb.net:8081/wwwroot_45/PICS/KSC/sts-113/STS-113.PostLandingPC.mps)