‘M for wonder’, AstroSam begins the Minerva mission – Science & Technology

Wonder, Inspiration, Nourishment, Exploration, Research, Travel, Adventure, that is Minerva: the name of the second mission of Samantha Cristoforetti was born from a play on words, which began with the arrival on the Space Station of the Italian astronaut of the European Space Agency ( Esa). After the 2014 Futura mission of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the astronaut is ready for over five months of work in orbit, this time on a European mission

After a journey of almost 16 hours, AstroSamantha has arrived at its destination with the Crew Dragon Freedom shuttle. With her colleagues from the crew of Crew-4: Kjell Lindgren, in command of the shuttle, pilot Bob Hines and mission specialist Jessica Watkins, all of NASA. Kisses, hugs and a dazzling smile upon somersaulting entry into the Space Station’s Harmony node, to which the capsule was hooked. The spectacular launch took place when it was late at night in the United States and the coupling took place quickly and without problems, completely automatically.

To welcome the crew of the Crew-4, the seven colleagues of the space agencies of Russia (Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev and Sergei Korsakov) and the United States (Raya Chari, Thomas Mashburn and Kayla Barrow), who continue to work in harmony far from the ongoing conflict on Earth, and ESA astronaut Mathias Maurer. It is also the fourth time in the history of the Space Station that two European astronauts have come together on board. “It is a great pleasure to see not only the successful launch and docking of Crew-4 with Samantha Cristoforetti, but the meeting in orbit of two such capable European astronauts”, commented ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. . In days Maurer will have to return to Earth with his colleagues from the Crew-3 mission, but he will have time for a greeting from space with AstroSamantha, in a connection scheduled for May 2.

For a few more days, therefore, the Space Station will be very crowded, with 11 astronauts on board. There is also a lot of work for everyone to do, with over 200 experiments to follow, while the Russians Artemyev and Matveev faced the second of five spacewalks to install the first robot capable of moving around the Russian modules of the ISS, the European Robotic Arm ( Era). Even from the outcome of this spacewalk it could be decided whether Samantha Cristoforetti will do one of the three extravehicular activities still scheduled. No decision has been made at this time.

While waiting for the answer, the Italian astronaut certainly does not lack work. She will assume the role of leader of the American Orbital Segment, which includes the US, European and Canadian modules and components of the Space Station. She also has a busy schedule of experiments to carry out on board the European Columbus laboratory, six of which are designed by ASI. Among these: Prometheus, who studies oxidative stress; Ovospace, on the impact of microgravity on the female reproductive system; Evoo in Space, which studies the impact of microgravity and radiation on Italian extra virgin olive oil.

Cristoforetti will also experiment with a virtual reality viewer to train in maintenance operations. There are also many activities for schools: the two new Astro Pi computers are available to students from all over Europe, to design experiments to be conducted in orbit during the school year; schools will also be able to use artificial intelligence to build an interactive voice assistant, or even design a lunar base and participate in the Mission-X health challenge. Finally, AstroSamantha. he will also try his hand at Yoga practice in space.

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‘M for wonder’, AstroSam begins the Minerva mission – Science & Technology

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