NASA came to SXSW … From space!

The fact that this year’s South by South West festival was all digital meant that producers and panellists could join the festival from anywhere. In fact, they didn’t even have to be on Earth. My favorite part was watching Q&A with NASA astronauts Victor Glover (pictured above) and Kate Rubins, who spoke from the International Space Station about their work on the station, as they arrived place, and of course… salad.

Yes, both Glover and Rubin talked about missing fresh salads and veggies and greens while in space. There are a lot of amazing things about spending time in space, but not much fresh food. O wind. Or the weather in general. Being in a completely artificial environment can be difficult, so when they get home they both look forward to sitting down with a nice salad and promising not to complain about the weather.

Another question is what do they do in their downtime on the space station, and it basically comes down to sitting (or floating) in the spacecraft. silence and relaxing. Astronauts receive daily news summaries sent to them, along with movies and even live events like the Super Bowl, so they have a lot to entertain while in orbit.

Life in microgravity is very different, however, according to Rubins and Glover. And the feeling of smallness without density is not just something you can prepare for. Rubins explained, “You can conceptualize it but you can’t feel it until you’re here,” and that learning how to move and how to expect is a learning experience. the things around you. A glover mocks the ease of getting things lost on the space station when you have to deliberately put velcro on them or else they will fly away. He gave a visual example of the easiest place to lose something like an iPod: just hovering right behind your head.

The astronauts also joked that they could find things like spoons around the space station from other missions. “The station takes and the station gives,” they explained. But hey, it’s pretty cool to be able to make floating flippers, so it’s a trade-off. Also if you want to disconnect a bit, there is no greater flexibility than automatically setting “off-planet” on your email.

But being in space doesn’t just affect how your spoons and iPad move, it affects your entire body, and that’s one of the things they do. study while in orbit. Back to the topic of salads, Glover himself is the guinea pig in a study to see how eating more nutritious food will benefit his body in space. Meaning he gets better, tastier food than the usual stuff on the station. NASA has reviewed its energies and actions before, and will review it again when it is back on earth.

Cells and bones and virtually everything work differently in microgravity, which is the basis for many of the experiments that take place on the space station, according to Glover and Rubins. Rubins reminded us that cells are straight, well, mobile bags so they work differently when gravity is not working on them. Crystals grow differently in space as well when they don’t have to fight against gravity, and there are rules of gratification, convection, and even combing out the window. This allows all kinds of experiments with things like fiber optics, radiation, and even human bodies.

The station is an “amazing laboratory,” and there are over 200 tests going on there. And many of them are important and beneficial to those of us down here on earth, because they can give us vital information about things like bone loss and osteoporosis, or how our blood and cells and immune systems work, and much more.

Rubins and Glover ‘s talk was one of NASA’ s many panels at SXSW, including an amazing talk on astrobiology and finding life in the universe.

Here are a few other space tidbits we saw this week:

Stay safe out there, Space Cowboys!

(Image: Red Huber / Getty images)

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