What’s it like to sleep in space? Have you ever tried a New Mexico chile? Is microgravity as fun as it looks?
Those are just a few of the questions students had the opportunity to ask NASA Astronaut Christina Koch aboard the International Space Station, as they chatted with her live from The University of New Mexico.
Hundreds of students from across the state crowded inside the UNM Student Union Building to take part in the NASA In-Flight Education Downlink. Each year, NASA selects 5-6 educational institutions to host a live chat with astronauts.
“Hello to The University of New Mexico, the International Space Station has you loud and clear.” - Christina Koch, NASA Astronaut
UNM Biology Professor David Hanson organized and co-hosted the event with nationally syndicated radio show The Children’s Hour and UNM IT.
“I’ve never been prouder to be in New Mexico and at UNM than I was today,” Hanson said. “It was a community effort to make this happen and everyone involved helped make the event fantastic. All the students put so much thought into their questions and Christina Koch was simply amazing at giving us a real glimpse into life in space.”
The event was free and open to students, K-12, from across New Mexico.
“One of the biggest things I wanted to accomplish today was to create a pipeline of opportunities in STEM education for all students, from grade school to the university level,” Hanson said.
Students pre-submitted questions about life aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans and what it’s like to conduct science in space. They spoke with Koch for 20 minutes Tuesday morning. Not only is she making out-of-this-world opportunities accessible to students, soon she will hold the record for being the first woman with the longest single spaceflight. In October, Koch also performed the first all-female spacewalk along with Jessica Meir.
Koch began the live chat with a mic check, “Hello to The University of New Mexico, the International Space Station has you loud and clear.”
International Space Station In-flight Education Downlinks support NASA's efforts to encourage K-12 students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Downlinks are facilitated by the Johnson Space Center Office of STEM Engagement as part of STEM on Station and use the unique experience of human spaceflight to promote and enhance STEM education. Astronauts living on the orbiting laboratory are able to participate in these educational calls and communicate 24 hours a day with the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston through the agency's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites.
Katie Stone, executive director of The Children’s Hour will broadcast the downlink Saturday, Dec. 14 at 9 a.m. on KUNM.
"Our interview with Astronaut Christina Koch left everyone in the room buoyant with inspiration and possibility and our crew was incredibly honored to have been a part of it," Stone said.
To view the complete live chat between students and Koch, click here.