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Thursday Oct 15 2020

Grade 4 students from Karachi get answers from astronauts, space scientists about space travel

The students were over the moon as they received answers for their space-related queries. Photo:

A group of fourth-graders from a local school in Karachi were over the moon when real life astronauts and space scientists from around the world replied to their curious questions regarding the secrets of space travel.

In a bid to get NASA scientists to respond to the students, a Karachi teacher had chosen Twitter to get in touch with astronauts and urged netizens to help answer the queries of the little ones.

"We read about you in all your books and are fascinated by your adventure in space. We really admire your work and have some questions for you, eagerly waiting for your reply," the students wrote in a note that that was shared by over 2,000 users on Twitter.

Eventually, the struggle bore fruit and several scientists and astronauts answered the space-related queries of the fourth graders.

Alisha: What fuel does a spaceship use?

Alisha, 10, asked the space scientists what fuels they use for their spaceships. 

"Alisha - All different types! Some popular rockets that you'll see will use a fuel + an oxidizer," replied Emily Calandrelli, an American science communicator and the host of television show Xploration Outer Space.

"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!."

Minahil: What should I study to become a scientist?

Minahil, 10, wanted to know how can she join NASA scientists in space as she is interested in becoming an astronaut.

"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."

Mahrukh: How do you feel when you get blasted off in a space shuttle?

Mahrukh, 10, was inquisitive about what happens when a spaceship is blasted off in space.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has been on three spaceflights, replied to Mahrukh describing exactly what it feels like:

"You feel violently shaken, squished, super-focused, excited and lucky," he wrote.

Rayyan: Do you get scared that your space shuttle might get lost?

Rayyan, 10, also had a valid question for astronauts . He asked them if they get scared if their space shuttle gets lost in space?

This, too, was responded to by Hadfield, who also shared a photo of Karachi from outer space for Mahnoor to look at.

"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. Here's a photo I took of Karachi — can you find your school?" he asked.

Haniyah: Does it rain diamonds on Jupiter? 

Student Haniyah, 9, asked if it rains diamonds on Jupiter. 

The question was answered by the German Aerospace Center. 

“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. 

But this wasn't it!

The teacher wrapped these answers in an envelope with the name of the students and delivered them officially.

The students, for some of whom it was a dream come true, were extremely happy to receive answers to their questions.