Facts about Astronauts

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Far away, about 100 Km from the earth, exists a zone that most of us have only heard or seen pictures of: Outer space.

It is has been stated, that in space the effects of gravity are nil. Though most people have not had the chance to verify this fact for themselves, there are few others, who have, and continue giving more information after their every journey outside this planet.

Astronauts are people trained by spaceflight programs to lead expeditions in space. They are the source for most of the information that has been recorded about space till date.

Here are a few things you probably never knew about astronauts.

 1.The term “astronaut” is derived from the Greek words “astron”, meaning “star” and “nautes” meaning “sailor”.

2. According to the World Air Sports Federation (FAI), only flights that reach an altitude of 100 Km or more are considered as space flights.

The World Air Sports Federation is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that holds and coordinates aeronautical expeditions and activities worldwide.

3. Till date 12 men have walked on the moon.

Neil Armstrong was the first man who walked on the moon on July 21, 1969. He was followed by Buzz Aldrin.

4.When first entering space, astronauts may suffer from space adaptation syndrome.

Space adaptation syndrome is a condition experienced by most space travelers, till they get used to the weightlessness in space. Those suffering from this condition feel a mismatch between what their eyes see and bodies feel, and have symptoms such as nausea and headache. Space sickness is analogous to motion sickness on earth.

5. While in space, astronauts may be affected by muscular atrophy.

Muscular atrophy is a condition that arises due to disuse of muscles. Mass of the muscle decreases resulting in shortening of the limbs.  This is due to the absence of gravity in space. To avoid muscular atrophy, astronauts are given strict exercise regiments to follow while in space.

6. Astronauts can grow taller in space.

Scientific studies have shown that the absence of gravity allows the vertebra to expand and relax. This leads to an increase in length of spine to cause a corresponding increase in height. This change is however short lived and retrogrades due to earth’s gravity.

7. An astronaut’s spacesuit is equipped with oxygen cylinder.

In space, there is no air and no air pressure making it impossible to breathe normally. Spacesuits supply air for astronauts to breathe while they float in the vacuum of space.

8. Astronauts wear their spacesuits during the launch and hours before going on a spacewalk.

The space suits act as pressure suits that protect them from the sudden drop in pressure during launch of the spacecraft. Further, astronauts get into their suits hours before a spacewalk to breathe pure oxygen, as preparation for their activity.

9. Astronauts can urinate while wearing their spacesuits outside the spacecraft.

An astronaut’s spacesuit is fitted with a maximum absorbency garment. This cloth is made from a chemical absorbent called sodium polyacrylate, making it capable of absorbing about 2 litres of liquid. The MAG thus helps absorb urine and feces.

10. Astronauts face coordination conundrum on landing.

After a space expedition, most astronauts have difficulties adjusting to earth’s gravitational force. Forgetting the influence of gravity on earth, astronauts tend to drop things as they are still used to the weightless atmosphere in space.

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