The Answers! Part One
July 18, 2011 — Thanks for all of your great questions!! NASA’s Leland Melvin has taken 20 of HTE readers’ questions … and here are the answers! Thanks to everyone who submitted! For the next four days between now and when Atlantis touches down, we will be posting 5 of the questions with answers.
1. Is going into space fun?
Casey, age 9, California
Yes, it is a lot of fun, especially floating. But there’s a lot of hard, very detailed work we do when we’re in space, too. We build things, do science experiments, perform Earth observations . . . but it’s all still really fun!
2. Mr. Melvin, how far does space go?
Izzy, age 7, New York
Scientists believe the universe is continuing to expand, so the answer would be that space is infinite. You can learn more here by clicking on this NASA link: http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_shape.html
3. Mr. Melvin, why don’t we send a rocket with no men in it, and as much fuel as we can, and a video camera, and see how far it goes and see what happens (to see if it hits a wall at the end or something)? And how did people know that there was even space to go into in the first place?
Arlo, age 7, New York
We’ve done something very similar to what you suggest. In 1977, NASA launched the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft. Their primary goal was to study Jupiter and Saturn, but they kept going and explored all of the giant planets in our solar system. Believe it or not, they’re still going and sending back data from the edges of the solar system. They are the most distant human-made objects in space.
Since the beginning of time, humans have looked up at the heavens and wondered ‘what’s out there?’. I think exploration is a big part of who we are as humans, so that’s part of the reason we go to space.
4. What is it like eating in space?
Sean, age 8, New York
It’s cool, but it can really be a challenge. As you know, in microgravity everything floats around, so you can’t eat the same way in space as you do on the ground. Things are packaged differently, so that the food or beverage goes straight from the package into your mouth. Of course, sometimes we let pieces of food float and then try to catch them – that’s pretty fun!
5. How does a space ship go so fast?
Conor, age 6, New York
It goes fast off the launch pad because it has lots of rocket fuel to lift it off the planet. Once in low-Earth orbit – like the space shuttle and the space station are – a spacecraft remains in a constant state of free fall around our planet and travels at 17,500 miles an hour.
Thanks for sending such great questions, kids! I hope you will study science and math, listen to your parents and teachers, and live a healthy and fit lifestyle. Doing these things will allow you to reach higher, to excel and to become the next generation of explorers!
Reach for the Stars,