IAmA NASA Astronaut that recently returned to Earth after a 1/2 year in space. I'm brand new to reddit (like hours ago) AMA
No the moment I returned to Earth my brain reset to account for gravity. On my first flight however it took much longer to adjust to being back on Earth (even though my 1st flight was only 2 weeks and my last one was 5.5 months)
I've actually heard about this, according to my Aerospace Prof. that worked at NASA. Another interesting fact. If you lose something, look for it at the air vents. The air circulation usually pulls everything there.
How long ago did you get back from space?
Only about 4 hours
My bad - I misread the question. I though you asked how long did it take you to get back from space. The answer to your actual question is I landed on the 16th of Sep 11'
it's been a dream for a long time now, do you think that we'll actually be able to blow up the moon in our lifetime?
I truly believe that we can accomplish anything we set our minds on. We only need the will to do it
My #1 reddit lesson learned: Read the whole question. I assumed you asked would we ever go back to the Moon in our life time
My #2 reddit lesson learned: Don't do an AMA past bedtime
Here's me singing the blues http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/astronaut-ron-garan-sings-blues-766779#.T2igm1RZgpY.twitter
What was going through your mind as you were coming back to earth?
I hope the heat shield and parachutes work
Huh, I was expecting something more like "I was looking forward to seeing my family again" but yeah, that would logically be going through my mind to. Was it a bumpy ride back?
it was like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel (that's on fire) followed by a high speed crash
Would you be willing to accept the enormous risks to travel to Mars?
Yes for the same reason I accept the risk of flying to the ISS - because it is important for our future (if the dinosaurs had a space program they'd still be here)
I assume you folks don't have a lot of privacy up there. Is it easy to "get away" and spend time by yourself at all, or basically impossible?
The ISS is huge and you can find some "quiet time" if you need it
What was the first thing you did when you got back to Earth?
What was the first thing you ate?
Hugged my family, ate a slice of pizza
What emotional and/or physical effects did space have on you?
Really not much at all. We are really busy up there so boredom is not an issue. We do miss our families but we are able to stay connected and because of our physical counter measures (exercise) I had no bone or muscle loss after 5 1/2 months in space
Oh good to hear, Losing a bone would not be very humerus.
yeah I read something that long duration in space is causing vision problems due to flattening of the back of the eye. Are you having issues like this?
Your eyesight does change in space. It's an issue we are working hard to overcome
I read that when you're in space and close your eyes, you experience solar particles hitting your retinas as speckles of light. Was this the case, or was the experience different for you?
Yes I did experience that. Sometimes it was a flash and at other times it was a streak of light. I'm sure it happens all the time but I only noticed it as I was getting ready to fall asleep
Are farts extra stinky in space? i'd imagine that nasa food would make you have to toot, a lot.
Is there any astronaut food that tastes good?
Welcome home!!!! What do you think is in our near future in space? What would you like to see happen? How do you feel about the private space industry? Can you describe what it was like seeing your home for the first time from space? What's next for you?
Thanks - My hope is that we develop a transportation system between the Earth and the Moon, establish a permanent human presence on the Moon (for the betterment of all of humanity) and turn operations in low Earth orbit over to commercial entities. I also hope that someday soon flying in space is as common place as flying on an airline and many more people can experience the "Orbital Perspective"
Shouldn't a cheaper surface-to-orbit system be the highest priority?
What a world it would be. If we can have people live in orbit for extended periods of time, what's the big technological hurdle to actually setting up base on the moon? Assuming we can get vehicles, fuel and supplies there cost-effectively, would it make a better launch platform?
The big hurdle is lifting things off the surface of the Earth. That's why we will need to "Live off the Land" and use the resources already on the Moon to the max extent possible
What did you miss the most?
Proof: I just posted I'm doing a AMA on my G+ profile: https://plus.google.com/116214152295449083654/posts What I miss most is seeing our beautiful planet
TELL ME ABOUT THE ALIENS
Didn't see any (but that's because they're really really small)
How did you entertain yourself in your free time up there? Did you even have free time?
We do have movie and TV shows but I spent almost every spare minute I had taking pictures of our beautiful planet
That sounds like the perfect hobby when you're in space. What is the most remarkable thing you learned from photographing the earth so extensively?
Since I was up there so long it was amazing to watch the planet change with the seasons. It's almost as if our planet is a living, breathing organism
How exactly does one photograph in space? Are you able to brace the camera well enough to get a sharp shot? How bright is the planet from the ISS, in terms of F-stop and shutter speed? Do you just take with you a run of the mill canon or nikon, or does NASA have a set or special and or really expensive cameras for you to use?
for long exposure shots (on the dark side of the orbit) we use a bracket to steady the camera. In the daytime we simply hold it in our hand as we're floating
I saw you talking about this in Trey Ratcliff's hangout!
That was a fun hangout
how does your body recover from being in zero gravity for months?
It recovered very fast because we do 2 hours of exercise a day while onboard
did you do a spacewalk at all? if you did what did it sound like? I think on earth we very rarely experience true complete silence, did you experience it? what was it like, was it different from the "silence" we experience on earth? I'm super interested in this.
I have done 4 spacewalks (in total I have been "outside over 27 hours) It's actually not that quiet since your spacesuit has fans running (you're basically in your own self-contained spaceship)
what does it take to be an astronaut? I'm seriously considering to major in biological science, so other than education requirements, what does it take?
We have astronauts from many walks of life (pilots, scientists, engineers, teachers, doctors, veterinarians,etc. etc.) They all have some background in a technological field and at least a masters degree
Does it ever get boring being able to play with orange juice? Playing catch with breakfast sounds awesome.
We're told on Earth that we're not supposed to play with our food but that's totally acceptable in space (in fact it's encouraged) it's great fun
Are you allowed to take any personal belongings into space?
yes we are allowed to take a few personal items
what did you take with you?
family pictures, some music CDs, and mementos from some universities and a few books
Did you ever secretly find yourself looking for ufo(or similar) in the distance?
Also, is space junk really as big of a problem as we hear about?
space junk is a really big problem we had a piece come very close to the station on our mission
How do you sleep in space?
While sleeping I free floated (interesting that I usually woke up up-side-down - in relation to my stuff)
I follow you on G+ and loved your Space Blues video. It inspired me to write a few sketches based on the concept of you going completely insane in space and doing web diaries. Would you be into that?
PS thanks for all the photos on G+, space is beautiful.
What makes you think I didn't go completely insane?
One of the proposed ideas for getting people to Mars is to have a one way trip. NASA, or an international coalition, would send an initial team and over time would continue to supply that team as well as send more people to Mars, the goal being setting up a permanent human settlement. Do you think this is a worthy goal of NASA/humanity? If we could only pursue one mission in the next 20-30, a colony on the moon in which the colonist could return to Earth if desired, or the above stated mission, which do you think would be a better use of our resources?
Also what do you think is the top challenge(s) we must overcome before we can voyage to Mars (be it one way or round trip)?
I'm honestly not sure what I think of the one-way trip that would be quite a sacrifice. I think we should go to Mars someday but only after we colonize the Moon and use the resources and energy that's there not only for the betterment of all of humanity but also to help us get to Mars. Top challenges of a Mars mission will be the propulsion and radiation shielding
were you able to call your family and friends from space?
Yes we have an IP phone onboard and can call anywhere in the world and we have a video conference with our family once per week
What do you feel was the biggest accomplishment made by your mission in terms of making the world a better place?
The science we conducted on the ISS simply can not be done anywhere on Earth and is leading to breakthroughs in preventive medicine, materials, energy, a better understanding of our planet and the list goes on and on. Besides that: fragileoasis.org , mannaenergy.org (outside of NASA) and unitynode.org
How its like taking a shower and using the bathroom in space? In addition, how was the training prior to going into space, like what did you do to get prepare? Also, can you share some of the photo you took in space?
BTW You are so cool :)
We actually don't have a shower on the space station we basically take sponge baths. We do have 2 toilets onboard. Urine flows through a funnel to recycling equipment (turning yesterday's coffee into today's) solid waste is pulled away from the body via air flow in the comode.
You can find many of the pictures I took of the Earth at: https://plus.google.com/116214152295449083654/photos and http://twitpic.com/photos/Astro_Ron
I'm going to call it a night. Thank you all for making my first experience on reddit so enjoyable. I hope to do this again soon. Cheers, Ron
What DON'T you miss about earth or it's inhabitants?
It was sad to look at the indescribable beauty of the planet we have been given while thinking about the unfortunate realities of life on our planet for a significant number of her inhabitants (those that don't have clean water to drink, food to eat and the poverty and conflict that exists). It really is a sobering contradiction
Another question. Have you seen anything when looking down on earth or into space that has you completely awed that is captured in your memory for the rest of your life?
How careful do you need to be? Is there an overarching feeling that you could screw something up and doom yourself or the ISS? Can you describe any of the aspects of your journey?...lift off?...the speed?..being in space?...climbing aboard the ISS for the first time?...you first view of space or earth?...blazing through the stratosphere on your way home?...etc?
You do have to be very careful because there's a great deal of things you can mess up. The lift off in the Soyuz was awesome it was almost as if we were wearing the rocket. Incredible acceleration
What is the best part about being in space?
The best part about space is knowing that we're helping to make the world a better place while we are able to gaze at our planet from above
I have heard that being in space weakens one's immune system. Is this true? Did you have any trouble from it? Do people on the ISS ever catch diseases? If so, how do sick days work?
Thanks for doing this!
I don't think it weakens your immune system but it does make bacteria more virulent which enabled our research to lead to a vaccine for salmonella
Hi there! I'm currently a high-school sophomore who has a interest in space and space flight, so I naturally have a few questions!
Although I acknowledge it is highly unrealistic, if I wanted to become a astronaut, what types of things would I have to study in college to have a chance? Would a background in engineering be beneficial (this is what I plan to do anyway. Aerospace engineering to be exact)?
Also, in the a few weeks, I am giving a persuasive speech in my English class having to do with manned spaceflight. And there's no better person to ask than an astronaut! What do you think the single, most beneficial aspect of spaceflight is?
That's all I have! Keep on being awesome, and know that you are doing what many of us dream of!
First: you can accomplish anything you set your mind to - nothing is impossible. My advise is to pick a field of study (and a career) that you truly love and then be the very best at it you can be. To be an astronaut you will need some sort of technical degree. I recommend a concentration in STEM: Science Technology Engineering Math. Besides the scientific discoveries that are being made possible by the unique micro-gravity environment that the ISS provides I think the most beneficial aspect of the space program is it gives us the "Orbital Perspective" That perspective that we are all riding through the Universe on this spaceship we call Earth, that we are all interconnected, that we are all in this together and that we are all family
Did being in space change your philosophical views on the nature of life?
No but it reinforced my appreciation of the gift we have all been given (our Earth) and a renewed understanding that we all have a responsibility to leave it a little better than we found it
What is it like physically being in zero gravity? Is it harder to breath etc?
Being in zero G feels absolutely wonderful. There's no problems with breathing or anything else
Could you see your house from there?
almost (if you use a camera with a really big lens)
follow up question...did you try to find where you live?
Welcome to Reddit. Are you glad to be back, or do you miss it?
EDIT: Are you going back?
I miss the beauty that defines life in space but I'm very happy to be experiencing the beauty that defines life on Earth (much I took for granted)
At what point did you decide to become an astronaut? In response to the previous question, what was your major in college?
July 20th 1969- My major in college was business because for some kid from NY we didn't have a space program (it was after Skylab but before the Space Shuttle) The day after the 1st Shuttle mission I went to my advisors about taking math and science and did end up getting advanced degrees in engineering (excellent example of the space programs ability to inspire students)
Being in zero gravity must be a very interesting experience for the human body. I am curious about digestion of food. Do you need to take any type of medication or digestive aid to help your stomach deal with problems like floating stomach acids?
Once you get used to being in space digestion is not an issue (everything works normal)
What's a typical day like on the ISS? Run us through your "9-5".
We spend the day either doing scientific experimentation, or maintaining the space station. We also conduct education/public outreach activities and occasionally do other things such as space walks
You mentioned "living off the land" in a previous post. Is it possible to live of the land on Mars or even the moon?
Yes there's O2 and water (ice) on the Moon which can be made into rocket fuel for a trip to Mars. There's also many other useful materials (platinum which can be used as a catalyst in fuel cells and an ample supply of solar energy)
How long did it take for your body and mind to adjust to space and when you returned to earth did that take some adjustment as well?
Because this was my 2nd flight and I had been through the transitions before it was like a switch went off inside my head when we got to space reseting me to life in space and the same thing happened the moment we landed and Control-Alt Deleting me back to Earth
'ey Ron! I follow you on g+ too. I was curious -- if you were able to orbit any single planet or body in our solar system and take photos/video the same as you have with Earth... which? Any reason why?
probably the Sun - but we'd have to go at night... ba-dum-dump
Do all non-pilot astronauts get trained in the same skills? For example, does everyone have the possibility of EVA? Or at some point in training are you slotted into a specialty (Alice does EVA, Bob works the robotic arm)? If specialized, does NASA pick or does the astronaut pick their specialty? Thanks.
Everyone has the opportunity (now) to train for all the different jobs
What kind of research did you do on the ISS? What kind of entertainment did you have? Also, was it hard interacting with the other cultures on board?
Research: Here's a video I made about it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ErLtE3Lf9s
Entertainment #1 photographing the Earth, we also have movies and recorded TV shows
It's wonderful having other cultures on board it made the experience richer
What was the best first experience- launch, weightlessness, or the reentry?
Also, what did you first think when you saw Earth from orbit?
I think weightlessness was the best 1st experience. When I first saw the Earth I just floated there for a moment in total awe
A former colleague's brother-in-law went up twice (and did several EVAs).
He says that it's nearly impossible to sleep thanks to vestibular input being totally garbled. I suppose that he wasn't there long enough to adapt.
Did you have any problem sleeping at all? Or did you need some adaptation period?
Speaking of vestibular input, are there some precautions you should take, things like trying to avoid sudden head movements or something like that?
I had problems sleeping on my Shuttle flight (since I was only up for 2 weeks I really didn't have enough time to adjust) on my ISS mission, once I got used to sleeping in space it was wonderful
I just started following you on G+ at the behest of Phil Plait! 1) If we're going to go farther than LEO, where, in your opinion, should we go? Moon, asteroid, Mars? 2) Is there any truth to the idea that your bones get weaker while you're in orbit due to calcium loss? 3) Is it true that you can't pass a kidney stone? 4) If you sneeze in the ISS do you have to hold on to something so you don't go flying into the wall?
I apologize for any strange questions, my coworkers asked me to ask you.
I think we should go back to the Moon (this time to stay). Your bones do get weaker in fact we loss calcium 10X faster than a 70 year old osteoporedic woman. The countermeasures we use have been extremely effective (I had no bone loss) and has direct applications to the treatment of osteoporosis
Thanks for doing this!
What was the most interesting/best thing you saw when looking down at the earth? Was there a part you passed over that was particularly beautiful?
The most interesting was seeing the India-Pakistan border. My description of that is here: http://fragileoasis.org/blog/2011/9/borders-from-space/
The Bahamas are amazingly beautiful from space
Other than being away from your family, what's the worst thing about going out into space? Are there any drawbacks that people usually wouldn't think of?
I think being away from you family is really the big thing other than that it's actually very comfortable up there
I'm going to make a pass through and do my best to catch the questions I missed. Thanks for showing me my reddit faux pas's. I'll make sure i don't laugh out load. I'll catch on (with your help)
Did you go on any EVAs, and if so, did you experience any fear e.g. agoraphobia? How did you deal with that?
I did go on 4 EVAs. They are very stressful but also incredible. I am very grateful for having the experience
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