How do you become an astronaut? AstroSamantha responds from Space

How do you become an astronaut? AstroSamantha responds from Space

If you had the opportunity to chat with Samantha Cristoforetti in orbit on the International Space Station (ISS), what would you ask? The young people who will participate in the 28th stage of "Italia Brilla - Costellazione 2022", the initiative of the Il Cielo Itinerante association which with its van is crossing Italy from North to South to promote sky observation and the study of Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are ready with their list of questions. Yes, because at 11.11 today, 13 July, the Italian astronaut will connect via radio from the ISS to the "Giuseppe Colombo" Space Geodesy Center of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) in Matera, to personally remove some of the curiosities about life in Space.

Stars on tour A yellow, blue and white minibus with a team of disseminators and sophisticated instruments for stargazing on board, to take the sky where it does not reach. Thus, with a tour of Italy, the Il Cielo Itinerante association is committed to promoting the study of stem subjects among girls and boys of lower secondary school who live in situations of educational poverty and / or social hardship. This year's initiative, which started in April in conjunction with the start of Samantha Cristoforetti's mission on the ISS, is called "Italia Brilla - Constellation 2022", and is the evolution of the first pilot experience of 2021, with many more stages (50) and didactic innovations.

credit: Il Cielo Itinerante

The idea comes from President Ersilia Vaudo, astrophysicist of the European Space Agency (ESA), who was inspired by the project of her colleague Susan Murabana who in 2014 founded The traveling telescope, a social enterprise in Kenya for the promotion of science and technology that travels to African villages to show the Moon and the stars even to those children who have very few tools. “We are convinced that stems are enablers of the future, a tool for social growth. This is why we tried to replicate a successful experience by adapting it to the Italian context. A territory that, given Invalsi in hand, is characterized by strong disparities in access to education, especially between North and South, "Giovanna dell’Erba, vice president of Il cielo itinerante, explains to The gap has widened with the pandemic. "During the lockdowns, access to education was only possible through digital devices and fast connections, but these tools are not available to all Italian families: there are those who do not have them and those who do not have the skills to use them, not thus being able to provide support to the children. A whole range of students has been cut off from the learning system, or in any case found themselves in great difficulty ".

Precisely in those areas where there is more need, the Il Cielo Itinerante minibus stops . Each stage is organized together with third sector schools or associations, to give a group of 40-50 children and teenagers the opportunity to observe the Sun, the Moon and the stars, and to get their hands dirty - and not only in figuratively - with science, through activities and laboratories that, while building a functioning rocket or "cooking" a comet, make one become familiar with mathematics and physics or with the evolution of the solar system. And you can also become an astronaut apprentice, discovering what the selection and preparation process consists of, the same one undertaken by AstroSamantha.

From Matera to Space, via radio The bus of the Il Cielo Itinerante association, today, is arrived in Matera, at the Asi “Giuseppe Colombo” space center. And this 28th stage will be a little different from the previous ones. While the team of disseminators prepares the materials for the scientific laboratories, in fact, the last checks are made for the connection with the ISS, from which Samantha Cristoforetti will answer the questions of the students.

The contact, made possible by the radio amateurs of Ariss (Amateur radio on the International space station), will be in "telebridge" mode. Through one of the radio stations on the ISS, astronauts can connect with radio stations on Earth. The Ariss project has 12 specialized satellite stations located all over the world and managed by radio amateurs who are available to establish contact with the ISS and to forward the audio by telephone line, thus allowing students to talk and ask questions to the astronauts in orbit. . The contact, scheduled for 11.11, will last 10 minutes, that is the transit time of the ISS over the radio station on the reference Earth.

"Everything is timed to the second," concludes dell’Erba. “Among other proposals, Samantha has chosen to follow our project. Having her support was the highest recognition of our work. A job that we hope to grow in quantity and quality, and in the future we hope to be able to accompany boys and girls who will choose to follow the passion for science along the entire path ".

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