The next space sensation, making history hundreds of kilometres above our heads. Luca Parmitano is the youngest astronaut on a long term mission to the international space station. The 36-year-old Italian blasted up to the ISS this summerand joins us live from the orbiting outpost answering your questions and sharing a rare glimpse of what live is like in space.
euronews: “Luca many thanks for joining us on I-talk. I would like to know what impressed you most up there?”
Luca: “It would be easier to answer what impressed me the least because everything has impressed me. Living on board a space station is a very sensorial experience, everything here is perceived differently. The things we take for granted don’t apply here anymore and so every time I look around it’s a surprise, it’s a different sensation.
“What impressed me is how technology in the space station is really part of our daily life, but we adapt so fast that now it feels like home even though we’re surrounded by technology and a very thin wall between us and space.”
euronews: “Okay, so we will go to our first question.”
Kelly, Belgium: “Hello, my name is Kelly from Belgium and I want to know what has been the most difficult thing for you to get used to in space?”
euronews: “So there’s been months of preparation but what took you by surprise when you’re up there?”
Luca: “Well I’ll have to say, the training on the ground really does an amazing job of getting us ready for living up in space. The space station environment looks oddly familiar after spending years, literally two and a half years in different buildings around the world that are mock ups of the station, where I am now, so it looks very familiar once you get here because you have seen it so many times.
“What took me by surprise, the thing that was really hard for me was however was getting used to how things were different in zero gravity. What was easy on the ground, like staying still is almost impossible in zero gravity; things float all the time, it’s impossible to put something somewhere. You always have to attached it to Velcro or by other means.
“So its this reverse way of thinking where things that are easier on the ground are harder in space and vice versa. That was the hardest thing so far to adjust to.”
euronews: “Very briefly now, how long did it take you to adjust to that?”
Luca: “I think I’m mostly adjusting to it, it’s an evolving process. Two weeks is what it really takes to feel completely confident moving in a three dimensional world and getting used to microgravity environment.”
euronews: “Luca, we’re going to go to our next question now.”
Gregory from Belgium: “Hello, my name is Gregory and I am from Belgium. I would like to know what your daily agenda is in space?”
euronews: “So you have got a very busy schedule up there, you are carrying out a lot of experiments. Can you give us a brief outline of what you’re doing?”
Luca: “On the space station at any given moment we have hundreds of experiments but we are only involved in a few at one time. For example, I am currently doing diet experiments where we are trying to figure out how to reduce the loss of calcium.
“I am glad you asked this question because I have right here an example of what science we are doing. This is an ultrasound machine [points] and my colleagues were analysing each other’s spines through an ultrasound machine. This will be a revolutionary way for people on the ground to be able to analyse damage to their spine in remote areas where MRI’s or X-ray machines are not available. This is going to be a very big impact on the ground as we speak.”
euronews: “And there are some health issues up in space for you personally. Tell us what those are.”
Luca: “Sure, one of the issues is the loss of calcium. Our bones need gravity to grow and get strong in a simple way. If they don’t experience gravity they tend to lose their calcium and to become brittle and fragile. Another issue is at a cardiovascular level, your muscles tend to weaken because you don’t use them as much. I don’t use my legs almost at all when moving around in space. The third one is related to vision. Because of the environment, eyes tend to change shape, which will affect long term vision, even permanently.”
euronews: “Luca, we’re now going to have a question from one of your biggest fans and that’s five-year-old Alessandro.”
Alessandro: “Hello Luca, this is Alessandro. Are there any other forms of life in space?”
euronews: “So with the Kepler telescope, he’s spot on isn’t he?”
Luca: “He sounds amazing, he sounds like a great kid. The question is, are there other forms of life on other planets. If you’re ready for my answer the answer will be – and this is Luca speaking not the astronaut, just a simple person. I believe there are so many planets, millions and millions of planets in the universe. If we could only imagine something different than what we call life, maybe not based on water, not based on oxygen, but on something different to what we call life, then we are taking about more of a probability than a force and that’s the easiest way I can put it.”
euronews: “Luca, many thanks for joining us on I-talk. That’s all for now but you can see who our next guest will be by checking out our website or following us on social media. If you have a question you would like to have answered then post it to us in video or text format.”