We often mistake the phenomena of gravity and microgravity. Gravity is a force that impacts motion, keeps the moon in orbit around the Earth and enables us to stay on the ground. Microgravity occurs when objects are in free fall. Both the International Space Station and the astronauts on it are free falling around the Earth causing the astronauts to float.
Astronauts live beyond the Earth’s protective ozone layer and while they still are in the magnetosphere they are exposed to higher levels of radiation. Much of this radiation is emitted from the Sun in the form of visible and invisible light. In this lesson, students use a prism in sunlight to learn that light has frequencies and wavelengths that determine the colors of light we see.
The Earth’s magnetosphere, a huge magnetic bubble, protects us from significant radiation exposure and deflects the vast majority of these particles. Since the International Space Station is in low-earth orbit, within the magnetosphere, the astronauts also receive a large measure of protection from radiation. In this lab students measure the levels of radiation in their environment using a Geiger counter.
The astronauts have been observing and documenting changes to our planet through photographs in pursuit of their mission of improving life both in space and on Earth. With the aid of computational predictive models and artificial intelligence, the color values from these images are now being analyzed by scientists to study and predict climate change.