Pakistani fourth-graders get answers from astronauts, space scientists

KARACHI: A group of fourth-graders from a private school in Karachi was overwhelmed with excitement when real-life astronauts and space scientists from around the world replied to their curious questions regarding space travel.

The students’ teacher, in a bid to get NASA scientists’ reply, took to Twitter and shared the questions along with the pictures of the six fourth-graders and tagged NASA and its sister accounts.

“These fourth graders have some questions for you,” she wrote. The students also wrote a note that that was shared by over 2,000 users on Twitter. “We read about you in all your books and are fascinated by your adventure in space. We have some questions for you, eagerly waiting for your reply,” it added.

The letter included six questions from students, Alisha, Minahil, Haniyah, Mahrukh, Anabiya, Rayyan. Eventually, several scientists and astronauts answered the space-related queries of the fourth graders.

The first response was from Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut, to Mahrukh’s question first. “How do you feel when you get blasted off in a space shuttle?” Hadfield responded, “Mahrukh – I flew in the Space Shuttle twice. You feel violently shaken, squished, super-focused, excited, and lucky.”

Later, the Canadian astronaut responded to Rayyan’s inquiry of whether the astronauts get scared that their space shuttle might get lost? To this, Hadfield answered, “Rayyan – I wasn’t scared we’d get lost. We had the Earth nearby and used the stars to steer. I felt especially comforted when I flew over the home.”

Another child Alisha wanted to know the kind of fuel rockets use. In this regard, Emmy-nominated host/scientist, Emily Calandrelli, said, “Alisha – All different types! Some popular rockets that you’ll see will use a fuel + an oxidizer.”

“For example, something called RP-1 and then liquid oxygen. These are combined together and then ignited and burned to create a big (controlled) explosion that moves the rocket,” she added.

 Minahil wanted to know how can she join NASA scientists in space as she is interested in becoming an astronaut. To this, Emily Calandrelli said, “NASA needs all types of people for their missions! Mostly scientists and engineers (so studying a STEM degree is a good idea!) but also IT people, human resources specialists, accountants, technicians, writers, etc! But remember you will probably need to be a US citizen.”

Student Haniyah asked if it rains diamonds on Jupiter. The question was answered by the German Aerospace Center. He said, “The diamond rain is rather a theory, a model, based on the fact that Jupiter’s atmosphere and gas hull has plenty of carbon inside,” it informed her on behalf of planetary geologist Ulrich Köhler.”

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