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Staying stimulated in space

(People's Daily Online)

10:52, June 24, 2012

How are the astronauts’ lives on their first day in the Tiangong-1? Will they feel bored?

They have completed a lot of scheduled work and began to implement the same work and rest schedule as on the earth.

According to news from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center on June 19, the astronauts of Shenzhou-9 spacecraft are currently in a good condition. Since the three astronauts entered the Tiangong-1 on June 18, they have completed a lot of scheduled work and began to implement the same work and rest schedule as on the earth.

The first day staying in the Tiangong-1 was the busiest day for them. At present, the temperature in Tiangong-1 is between 22 Celsius degrees and 23 Celsius degrees and the humidity is 40 percent. Therefore, the overall indoor environment is very comfortable.

It needs 90 minutes for the Tiangong-1 to orbit the Earth a circle, which is a "day and night" for the astronauts. It means that Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang have experienced 16 sunrises and sunsets within 24 hours. However, their lives are designed to be synchronized with the Earth.

The timetable for the astronauts in the Tiangong-1 was made according to the Beijing time. Experts said that, in the space where the day and night shift much more frequently, work tasks are arranged according to the time of the ground. Astronauts work in the daytime and rest at night. It is helpful for astronauts to keep healthy. This style of living based on the time of the ground is also the trend for the future long-term stay in the space.

The first email received by astronauts greatly enriched the life in the Tiangong-1

At 3:46 p. m. of June 19, a young engineer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center Yu Tianyi sent an instruction to the “Tianshen.” It was not an ordinary instruction, but a message sent by the ground to astronauts in the form of email. The content of the message include the audio, video and text document.

Astronauts in the Tiangong-1 were very happy after they received the email.

“This humanistic way of communication has taken astronauts' needs in the long period of stay into consideration fully. Compared to sending the remote control command, sending the email is more convenient and flexible.” The vice general engineer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center Li Jian said that, in this way, astronauts will be able to not only communicate with their families and receive movies and music they like at any time but also receive guiding videos and flight plans sent by the ground, and therefore it has greatly enriched astronauts' life in the space.

According to sources, the email is complex in the form, contains a huge amount of data and has a high sending frequency. In order to send the email to astronauts safely and effectively, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center specially developed an email transmission system which can automatically classify and package huge data of different forms and send them at any time. In addition, the transmission course could be monitored too, and if there is any problem, it will be solved timely.

Video calls greatly shortens distance between sky and ground

At 6:50 p.m. June 19, two-way video calls between the ground and the astronauts took place at the flight control hall.

“This is Shenzhou-9. We are very well at the Tiangong-1, and the work is going on smoothly. Don’t worry.”

According to Jia Wenjun, director of the space-ground telecommunication system at the Beijing aerospace flight control center, two-way video calls enable astronauts to see the smiling faces of their relatives for the first time from the outer space. This is the first actual “face to face” between the space and ground.

“From the Shenzhou-9 on, the ground will be able to transmit images to the space, and this represents a major breakthrough,” Jia Wenjun said. Greater transmission capabilities mean a lot for astronauts to lead a space life. “Viewing images from the ground, communicating face to face with families and ground support personnel, will definitely provide strong spiritual motivation and psychological support for astronauts tasked with long future life in orbit.”

Read the Chinese version: 天地“面对面”,生活不乏味
Source: People's Daily, author: Sun Xiuyan and Yu Jianbin


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