Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
What is space? Shannon Walker says there are many answers to this question. VOA

What is space? Shannon Walker says there are many answers to this question.

“We have stars, planets and galaxies in space. There’s lots of nothingness out there, but it’s really not,” she says. “There’s gas, dust and other bits of matter floating around ‘emptier’ areas of the universe, but you can’t see it very easily.”


Walker is an astronaut with NASA, the US space agency. She lived and worked for six months on the International Space Station in 2010. Walker says her ride to and from the space station was on a Soyuz spacecraft, for which she trained as a co-pilot, and flew with the Russians.


Shannon Walker, American Scientist and NASA Astronaut. VOA

​“I spent a lot of time in Russia training and learning how to fly that spacecraft. I was fully trained just like the commander to do everything that needed to be done, so that was exciting,” she says. Learning how to and being expected to know how to fly an international partner vehicle is quite something, especially having to do it all in Russian,” Walker says.


Shannon Walker, American Scientist and NASA Astronaut. VOA

Walker says seeing the Milky Way from the space station is a beautiful thing. She says without atmosphere and clouds blocking your view, the number of stars and the colors you can see is incredible.

Walker adds that rocketing to space and back produces some one of a kind feelings.

“You’re sitting on a launch pad a couple of hours before you take off, and you’ve done all your system checks, and you’re waiting and you’re waiting. And then shortly before the launch, you can hear the very top of the rocket, and so you can hear things happening beneath you, because all of a sudden the valves are opening and the fuel is starting to flow, and you can sort of hear it and feel it inside the capsule, so you know you were getting ready to go. And then, when the engines light, there’s just so much noise and vibrations and you can feel. You know the forces of movement are shoving you back in your seat. Now coming back is sort of a different set of vibrations and noises, because you’ve been floating for months and months, and then you get into a little tiny capsule to come home and you fire an engine and that’s not really a big deal, but once you start getting into the upper reaches of the atmosphere, you can actually see the way the Soyuz is built,” she says. “It’s got a heat shield on the bottom that is designed to burn away. And we’ve got some windows and so you can see bits of your spacecraft floating off and floating by, and everything’s heating up, and you can see sort of the glow of the heat as you’re coming through. And so, you know something’s happening coming through the atmosphere, and it just gets to be more and more intense as gravity builds up. You start feeling really, really heavy. And then the most exciting time I think is when the parachutes come out. You’re just bouncing around underneath the parachute for a pretty long time before everything settles down, and then you’re just gently floating down to the ground. Both are totally exciting and each in a completely different way.”


Shannon Walker, American Scientist and NASA Astronaut. VOA

Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Walker says having the Johnson Space Center nearby stoked her interest in space.

“At a young age, I became interested in space and science after watching the US land on the moon for the first time,” Walker says. I studied physics as an undergraduate, and after I graduated from Rice University, I was actually hired at the Johnson Space Center as a flight controller. Three years later, I went back there for my advanced degree in space physics.”

ALSO READ: India to be Guest of Honour at 29th Edition of Abu Dhabi International Book Fair

Walker says being an astronaut means being able to explore the universe and see it firsthand, and being a physicist means wanting to understand the universe. Would she like to go back to space? “In a heartbeat. I would absolutely go back!” (VOA)


Popular

IANS

Beauty icons Kriti Sanon and Shanaya Kapoor believe in natural and clean beauty products.

Clean beauty products are making inroads and have gained a significant share of the beauty market, with more more people becoming aware of the their benefits. With each passing year thanks to technology, research and development natural ingredients have finally regained their place in the spotlight. Don't take our word for it, beauty icons Kriti Sanon and Shanaya Kapoor also believe in natural and clean beauty products, and associate with the 'Naturali' range launched by RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group. The new age nature-inspired personal care brand aims to provide a one-of-a kind experience to their customer infused with trendy natural ingredients delivering quick visible results.

Hair care ambassador Kriti Sanon said, 'I am extremely thrilled to be associating with Naturali haircare range that is infused with modern, trendy natural ingredients which are free from harmful chemicals. I have always been an ardent supporter of the 'no nasties' proposition when it comes to my hair care needs, hence this association came very naturally to me. Everyone knows that natural products are supposed to be good for you, but they are often believed to be slow in giving results. Naturali changes this, as the range has a unique SuperBlend of complementary natural ingredients, that are optimized to give you quick visible results. As a woman myself, I strongly believe that no woman should ever have to compromise especially with respect to her beauty choices. So, it is extremely fulfilling to see a brand that is not only good for you being free from harmful chemicals but also makes you look good.'

sliced fruit on white surface Clean beauty products are making inroads and have gained a significant share of the beauty market, with more more people becoming aware of the their benefits. | Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Keep Reading Show less
wikimedia commons

London Bridge as it stands today

Children are often seen running around singing "London Bridge is Falling", and making a face of sadness when they reach the last line. Most people assume that the Fair Lady referred to in the rhyme is the Queen of England, and the current queen at that. But the history behind this rhyme goes farther back in time than we realize.

Speculation associated with this rhyme has to do with a process call immurement. Immurement was when a person was enclosed in a room with no exit points. This was more an act of superstition than punishment. It was believed to bring sturdiness to the structure if people were imprisoned behind the walls. London Bridge falling down was something that people at the time associated with weakness. But there is no evidence to substantiate the idea of immurement.

Keep Reading Show less
wikimedia commons

A Jain monk offering ablution to Bahubali in Shravanabelagola

Atop the Vindhyagiri hills in Karnataka, a 57-foot-tall statue stands. This is the statue of Lord Gomateshwara, or Bahubali, as he is known to the local patrons. The surrounding area is filled with temples where each of the many Jain Tirthankaras sits.

Sharavanabelagola is named after a pond that is located at the foothills. 'Bel' in Kannada means white, and 'kola' means pond. This is a sacred water body to the activities of the temples. It is a tourist attraction and a pilgrim destination located 85 kilometres from Mysore, and 145 kilometres from the capital, Bangalore.

Keep reading... Show less