Return to Human Space Flight home page

ISS Crew Answers: Expedition Five

Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1, 2, 3
Question No. 11Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Priyanka Rungta, Calcutta, W.B., Age: 28

Question: There has been major flooding over Europe in the past few weeks. Can you see anything relating to the swollen rivers from space?

Whitson: Yes, we have done a lot of photography of Europe during this period of floods. It has been very apparent that the rivers exceeded their normal boundaries.

Image: Danube River

The Expedition Five crew took this photo of the Danube River in Hungary on Aug. 18, 2002, when it had overflowed its banks and flooded nearby farmland.

Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.

Question No. 12Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: John Aletter, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Age: 57

Question: What is the main reason for installing more ham radio capabilities on the space station?

Whitson: We use the ham radio equipment to talk to children in schools around the world and to other hams. One reason to have four antennas is to have back-ups should one antenna fail. Another is to give us the ability to talk on one ham radio band while receiving communications on another.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 13Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Marcy Frumker, Cleveland, Ohio, Age: 45

Question: Does the station crew have regular, periodic practices for emergencies? For example, on Earth, we have fire drills. Does the ISS crew have emergency egresses to the Soyuz to practice?

Whitson: Yes we do have regular emergency drills. In fact, we recently practiced/reviewed the procedures for a depressurization event on the station. In the past, we have also reviewed procedures for fire and emergency descent in the Soyuz capsule. Just like on the ground, it is important to review the procedures and refresh in our minds what our specific actions would be in an emergency.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 14Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Leo Voglrieder, Howell, Mich., Age: 38

Question: As a pilot carrying a passenger that has an opportunity to see where they live from the air, I notice that it is very exciting for them. I have to believe that the same may be true from where you are. Is it possible to see your earthly home? What power viewing aid is required to accomplish this?

Whitson: The highest magnification lens we have is an 800 mm. In ideal photos, it is possible to get about a 6-foot resolution. With this lens it is possible to make out highways and streets, but I don't think I could make out my own house just by looking through the lens. It always amazes me how fast we are moving, and trying to find one particular spot like this really demonstrates the speed we are moving. Postflight analyses, with the time to really examine an area in detail in a photograph, I imagine that I could find my own house, if I were lucky enough to catch it on the fly-over.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 15Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Luis, Mandurah, Australia, Age: 14

Question: Why are you so interested in liver cell research?

Whitson: For me personally, the research methods, growing tissue cells in medium, are similar to some of the methods I was using in my endothelial cell research on Earth. The objective of this space flight experiment is to see how the lack of gravity will affect the liver cell function. These cells are important in our body for removing toxins. Previous research in microgravity has shown that tissue development is enhanced in the lack of gravity (without the effects of having limited 3-dimensional growth seen on the ground), which may provide us some insight into the function of these specialized tissues in our bodies.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 16Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Hailey Morris, Marietta, Ga., Age: 8

Question: Why does the ISS need a debris shield? Could you explain what it is?

Whitson: The potential impact with some space debris could penetrate our hull and cause depressurization of the station. We are traveling at 17,500 mph, so the debris would not have to be all that large to actually penetrate our hull. During our EVA we installed additional shielding to reduce the probability that if we impacted with some debris it would be penetrate our hull.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 17Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Robert Dubrey, Bentonville, Ark., Age: 30

Question: I have often heard that in the nighttime part of the orbit you can see thousands of lightning strikes. Is it the light show that I imagine it to be?

Whitson: It is even more impressive than I had ever imagined it would be to watch the lightning from above. During really large, active storms it is a continuous, moving display of light flashes on the Earth. The lightning appears to be randomly dancing through the clouds, moving from spot to spot. Sometimes there is enough light associated with the flash to make out some of the character of the clouds. It reminds me of watching across a field at night where lightning bugs flash on and off on their apparently random paths.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 18Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Angie Smith, Boyertown, Pa., Age: 12

Question: I was wondering how long it took you to get used to the conditions in the space station?

Whitson: I would say that I was very comfortable with my surroundings after about 2-3 weeks. I knew where most of the standard items I needed were located, and I would even, at times, forget that I was floating while I was working.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 19Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Joshua, Chesterfield, Va., Age: 19

Question: I've noticed that in most of the modules, the lighting is placed in a strip along two corners. Why is this configuration used? What type of lighting is used? Thanks.

Whitson: The lighting in the Destiny Laboratory Module and the Quest Airlock is from the "top" upper left and right quadrants, while the Unity Node has lighting near each of the four radial hatches as well as similar lighting found in the other modules. Lighting in the Russian segment is from the ceiling. In all cases, the majority of the lighting gives a sense of "up", even though it could in reality be from any direction.

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Question No. 20Peggy Whitson's Reply

From: Diana Kim, Berkeley, Calif., Age: 12

Question: What are the astronomical uses of the International Space Station?

Whitson: We don't have many astronomical uses for the station. We do, however, have the Hubble Space Telescope, which is at a higher altitude but still in Earth's orbit, and designed for the sole purpose to look out at the stars. It has a number of different kinds of measurement hardware, that is routinely -- every 2-3 years -- changed out or updated via shuttle servicing flights. Some incredible images and information about the formation of stars and planets have been discovered using this telescope!

Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson
Expedition Five Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson answered this question via e-mail.
Send a question to MCC or the CrewPAGE: 1, 2, 3

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 10/15/2003
Web Accessibility and Policy Notices