The crew of the ISS Russian Segment consisting of:
Commander of the crew of the ISS-37/38 Expedition Oleg Kotov,
Flight engineer of the crew of ISS-38 Mikhail Tyurin,
Flight engineer of the crew of ISS-37/38 Sergei Ryazansky,
answer questions from the winners of the quiz "Ask the ISS Crew a Question".

Oleg KotovAnswering questions from the winners of the quiz Ask the ISS Crew a Question is the ISS-37/38 crew commander Oleg Kotov.

Good day, dear participants in the quiz Ask the ISS Crew a Question. I'm Oleg Kotov, the commander of Expedition 38 to the station, and I welcome the opportunity to answer some of your questions. Overall, we have received more than 60 questions. All of them are very interesting and very informative, some of them are fairly original and put to us for the first time. Unfortunately, it is not technically possible for us to answer all these interesting questions, that is why have chosen several questions which are, in our opinion, the most interesting and entertaining, and we'll try to answer them.

In particular, we received an interesting question from Tavsiyat Seidullaeva, 15 years old, where she asks: "At what velocity and in what direction will a stone thrown in space fly? Will its velocity be decreasing and when will it be able to come to rest?"
This question makes us turn to a specialized branch of physics and mathematics called Celestial Mechanics. It is very interesting to study this branch because the motion of objects in low-Earth orbit is somewhat different from the familiar behavior of these objects in our everyday life on Earth. For example, if we throw an object in the direction opposite to the space station heading (in other words, backwards), we will be surprised to find out that some time after that this object will suddenly appear below the station, that is, between the space station and Earth, will get ahead of it, will be flying forward faster than the station and will eventually disappear far ahead. That's why I invite those who are interested in studying the laws of this branch of physics to look up the details in the textbooks or on the Web. But if we look at it from the practical standpoint, objects thrown out of the station will eventually, sooner or later, burn up in the atmosphere, since objects experience atmospheric drag even at the altitude of the space station, even though the air here is very thin, nevertheless they do. The object will be going down lower and lower, and braking faster and faster, until it enters dense atmosphere, where there will be enough oxygen for the object to burn up. No object will be orbiting the Earth forever. Sooner or later it will slow down and burn up in the atmosphere. Thank you.

The next question came to us from Arina, she is also 15 years old: "How does a spacecraft avoid collision with objects in space? Can it get knocked out of the orbit?"
Indeed, there is a risk of spacecraft colliding with other objects, both natural and man-made. The safety of the space station, the safety of the spacecraft and the crew are assured by specialists working on the ground, who monitor the surrounding space using radars: how and where the objects fly, is there any danger of colliding with them. If such a danger suddenly arises, and this is mathematically computed in advance, then a decision is made to perform a maneuver to avoid collision with the debris. That is, the space station thrusters perform a preset burn, and the station moves away from the orbit where it was likely to experience a collision. Against smaller objects, a part of the station is protected with so-called micrometeorite shields, which, in case of a hit should cushion the impact by absorbing the collision energy. That's how we provide collision safety. Thank you.
Anna Samokhvalova, 16 years old, asks: "What is the procedure for selecting new cosmonauts?"
Cosmonaut selection takes place by a decision of the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos) upon the recommendation of the Cosmonaut Training Center, when a decision is made to recruit a team of cosmonaut candidates and their number is determined. The direction the selection process takes also depends on specific manned programs, that is what will be their purpose, where they will fly. Let's take as an example the most recent selection which took place the last year. It was done openly – announcements had been made in the media, in the press, on the Web. Anyone who wanted, who met age, education and health requirements could make an application and try to join the cosmonaut corps. That's how that selection was done. In principle, every two or three years, there are additional recruitments, when they recruit three, four, five, seven persons, to replenish the cosmonaut corps. Thank you.
We received the next question from Anton, 11 years old: "How long does it take for human body to adapt after returning to Earth?"
Re-adaptation of human body to normal living environment takes fairly long, and, of course, depends on the space mission duration. The post-flight rehabilitation is usually broken down into two stages: first, the so-called acute period which passes in three or four weeks. A person has to re-learn how to walk, to move around, his vestibular system gets re-acquainted to living under Earth gravity, he comes back to normal life. And there is also a second rehabilitation stage. This period last longer. It may take as long as several months. The functioning of internal organs gets fully restored, bones and muscles fully recover, and the human being returns to his initial pre-flight condition. From experience of long-duration spaceflights, a cosmonaut can usually be declared fully recovered and fit for the next mission six months after landing. One might say that this is the period after which the human body functions get fully restored and the person has returned to his initial state.
A question from Alyona Volkova, 13 years old: "Dear cosmonauts, I'm interested in space psychology. How do you resolve conflict situations onboard space station during long missions?"
Actually, this is a very interesting subject. The work of small teams of people who have to stay in a confined space is one of the most important problems in space medicine and psychology. What methods of psychological training, support, psychological safety valves are required to avoid conflicts or tension among the crew? Working on this subject are both the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems and the Cosmonaut Training Center. There are departments and labs working on this and they help us to feel fairly comfortable during the mission. And I should say that the most important thing is that we are all professionals and we are fully aware of where we are flying to, and in what situations and environments we are going to find ourselves. That's why we are certainly trying to avoid any aggravations. That's why, at least during our expedition there have been no conflicts. Thank you for an interesting question.

Mikhail TyurinAnswering questions from the winners of the quiz Put Your Question to the ISS Crew is the flight engineer of the ISS-37/38 crew Mikhail Tyurin.

Let's begin from the very beginning, from the key question which is often asked. This question was asked by Anya. I will gladly try to put it into words. The question is: "Why doesn't ISS fall down?".
This might be a surprise for you, but actually, it does. It does fall. Continuously and all the time. But it doesn't fall straight down as a stone would from a roof, but rather as a ball thrown forward: it is falling, and, simultaneously, it is flying forward. So it follows this curved trajectory. But the Earth, as is well known, is also curved. The station is falling and the Earth is dropping away from under it. And that's happening all the time. It is falling and the Earth is dropping away from under it. And that's the story with the space station fall. Had the Earth been flat, it would have fallen down for sure.

The question that is asked by Sergei: "Dear ISS team. Is there a wall or a board on the station where you keep the history of the teams which have visited the ISS?".
Yes, indeed, ever since the first expedition to the ISS we have had this tradition of leaving something behind as a keepsake. That's why we have a special place in one of the modules, where all the crews which have visited here, leave their space patches in the form of stickers. The are put in a special place, on a special panel. In particular, they have places there where, grouped together, there are patches of ISS Expeditions, or patches of the Shuttle crews which visited the station while the Space Shuttle was still flying. In addition to this, near the hatches through which we go on space walks, there are also patches of those crews, which went on space walk through that particular hatch. So this tradition is our calling card.

The question that is asked by Tatiana, 20 years old. The question is: "What are your feelings when you are flying home from the ISS? What are your feelings when you are flying to the ISS, are you nervous?"
You know, most of the cosmonauts are whole-hearted, level-headed and experienced people. For most part, we stay in harmony both with our environment and with ourselves. That's why we are always glad when we go to work, and we are always glad when we return home from work. Generally speaking, that's what a normal person is supposed to do.

A question from Anya Merkulova about post-flight muscular sensations: "Good evening, dear cosmonauts! Since I study dancing, I would very much like to know what happens to your muscles, and what sensations do you feel in your muscles after the flight? I'm looking forward to your answer!"
First of all, thank you for a very interesting question. I want to share my experiences with you, especially since it's not just your curiosity, it has something to do with your hobby. I'll explain it in purely layman's terms – not as a specialist in the subject, but rather as a man to whom this happens. Generally speaking, certainly, muscles get out of shape. But that's not the most important thing. You loose coordination a little. On the whole, sensations are similar to what you might have experienced if you have ever broken an arm or a leg. When the plaster cast is removed from your arm, you know that the arm is yours, but it somehow feels foreign. That's what happens to your whole body here. But it gradually passes with time.
A question from Elisaveta, 14 years old: "Can you see the Great Wall of China from space? I've heard different opinions?"
I've heard from some cosmonauts of the previous generation, the ones from whom we learned, even from a specific person, that he did see it. To tell you the truth, I watched very closely for several months. But however I tried, I never managed to see it. I hope the best is yet to come. Maybe, I'll se it some day.

Sergei RyazanskyAnswering questions from the winners of the quiz Put Your Question to the ISS Crew is the flight engineer of the ISS-37/38 crew Sergei Ryazansky.
Good day! One of the questions is asked by Roman Isaev, 11 years old: "Dear cosmonauts, what plants (vegetables) do you currently grow onboard the ISS? Respectfully, Roman Isaev, Korolev".
During space station missions, both to Mir and the ISS, various plants were grown in greenhouses, various experiments in genetics of plants, such as peas, were conducted. Several generations of this plant were grown. Also grown were several generations of wheat. Currently, we don't conduct any experiments on plants. However, I happen to know that on the ground they are designing new experiments for our space greenhouse "Lada". And I should say that our US colleague Michael had brought some seeds and was trying on his own to grow here onboard the station sunflower and pumkin. The seeds, of course, did sprout, and the plants were growing. But unfortunately, there wasn't enough soil, enough light, and the plants soon died. But that's very nice when we have some plants onboard the station and we'll always be very glad to conduct any experiment involving plants. Because this reminds us of our home, our Earth. Thank you for the question.

The next question is asked by Irina Varzina, 11 years old: Hello, Could you tell me, do you wish that your children choose for themselves a career in spaceflight? Thank you."
I think I would be glad if they do. Because, in my opinion, everything that has to do with space is very romantic and very interesting. There is always something new: new discoveries, new technologies, various experiments. And I think that if my children share in what I really like, I'll be really happy. Thank you for the question.

Yekaterina Kostyuchenkova, 10 years old, asks us several questions at once. I'll try to answer them one by one. "How many years do you need to study to become a cosmonaut?"
Cosmonaut is an interesting profession, but it's also very complex and comprises quite an number of other various professions. That's why you need to study for at least several years more, after receiving higher education.
"Is space food tasty?"
Of course, it is tasty and varied, but I should say that we still miss home-cooked meals.
"Is it difficult to sleep in space?"
Sleeping is always good and it's wonderful in space. At first it felt unusual. In about a week I got used to it, and it became fairly comfortable.
"Did you have a chance to watch the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and root for our athletes?"
We only watch what is uploaded to our server by the psychological support team. Of course, what we watched was far from all the sporting events that we would have liked to be able to follow, but at least there were some favorite sports, some sporting events that we watched with pleasure and we rooted for our team. Thank you for the question.
Xenia Pulneva, 8 years old, asks "Could you see the opening of the Olympics from space?"
I myself wanted very much to see the opening of the Olympics, the fireworks. Because we can see Sochi from the ISS and we can see how much the city has changed, what beautiful facilities were built for the Olympics. Unfortunately, we were not flying over that area during the opening ceremony and the fireworks, and therefore we could not see it. But I can give you my word that the Olympic flame, which was burning in Sochi could be seen from space. It was very clearly visible and at nighttime we took some good pictures, so I hope you'll see them some day. Thank you.

The next question is asked by Alina, 12 years old: "What experiments do you perform onboard the space station?"
The science program onboard the station is fairly extensive. There are lots of experiments. Our expedition conducts about sixty of them. The experiments mostly cover the following areas: physical and chemical processes in the materials – how zero gravity and space radiation affect various materials; human studies – how spaceflight affects our body; biotechnology – effects of various germs and bacteria on tissues; as well as observations of Earth – from above we can clearly see various cyclones, floods, volcanic eruptions. Of course, all of this we film and transmit to Earth. There are also a great many other experiments covering other fields, which are well represented in our program and are also of great interest. We enjoy working on the science program. I wish we had even more science experiments here onboard the station. Thank you very much for the questions.

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