Lesson 3: Working on board the International Space Station
The astronauts on board the International Space Station (ISS) maintain the Station in the same way as a car mechanic maintains a car.
They also carry out scientific experiments. Europe is building the Columbus laboratory to be used for scientific research on the ISS.
What is the purpose of doing experiments in space? We already know that as they don’t feel the effects of gravity, the astronauts have a very different life on board the ISS. It also affects other things – how plants grow, for example, or how different substances mix in weightlessness.
In space, astronauts also observe the Earth and the Universe.
To study the effect of light on a plant, a scientist on Earth will compare the growth of a plant exposed to light with that of an identical plant kept in the dark. If they grow differently, this means light has an effect.
Similarly, to find out about the effect of gravity, experiments need to be done both with gravity and without. However, it is impossible to avoid gravity on Earth – weightlessness only occurs in space. Scientists study the effect of weightlessness on the body, on plants and on materials.
Last update: 7 January 2013