ESA title
Astronaut Umberto Guidoni
Science & Exploration

Umberto Guidoni answers emails from space!

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Astronauts

We received many messages for Umberto from well wishers all over the world.

Alessandro Colombis from Beijing asks:
Hi Mr Guidoni,
My questions are very simple: what do you do to relax during the little free time that you might have during this mission? I guess backgammon wouldn't be a great choice obviously because the dice would not drop.
Is ESA conducting any studies related to balancing the stress of operating in space with social games played with your flight partners?
Just a greeting in Italian: tanti auguri!
Alessandro Colombis, Beijing

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Dear Alessandro,
The most relaxing activity during our free time is looking out the windows watching the Earth going by. There is not much time for social games on a shuttle mission but It might become important for long duration flights on board the Space Station Alfa.
Umberto Guidoni


Ian Law writes from UK:
I was wondering do you get affected with jet lag when in the space station. You know when you feel tired travelling around on a plane. As you see so many sunsets and sunrises per day and are out of the normal time zones.
Do your ears pop in space? I have seen this question but never saw the answer
All the best and I hope you enjoy your time on board
Ian Law

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Hi Ian,
We sleep shifted when we were in quarantine one week before launch to adjust to the Station crew sleep cycle. Know we are OK but it is true that the day/night cycle every 90 minutes add some fatigue to our daily activity. The ear does pop in space.
Umberto Guidoni


Kirsty and Laura from Our Lady School, Worcester (UK) write:
Hello, we are Kirsty and Laura from Worcester, England. We are doing a school project about Space and we thought it would be very interesting to e-mail an Astronaut. We are nine years of age and Kirsty would like to be an astronaut. She would like to know what it is like to be an astronaut. Laura and me would be very grateful if you could e-mail our class back and answer some of these questions:

What is your name?
Which planets have you been to?
What is your favourite planet?
Have you been to the moon? And if so then is it nice there?
What are rockets like?
Have you ever been scared of death?
Is Mars really red?
Do you think are other living things in space?
What are astronut suits like?

Please please please write back,
from Kirsty and Laura (class 5)

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Dear Kirsty and Laura,
I try to answer some of your questions.

My name is Umberto and I am from Italy and I am one of sixteen European Astronauts. We are now orbiting around the Earth and I only have seen our beautiful planet from space. When you will be my age you will probably travel from Earth to the Moon and Mars.

Our space ship is called Space Shuttle and is launched like a rocket but it lands as a plane on a runway in Florida. I think we might find other life forms in our solar system and maybe on other stellar systems.
Umberto Guidoni



Canice Coogan writes from Ireland
Hello there from Ireland,
Are you going to welcome Tito on board the International Space Station, and if so will he be allowed into the American area.

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Hello Canice,
We will be leaving before Tito will get into the Station. There is a technical limitation that prevents us from having more than 10 people on board the Station at this stage. I don't know of any limitation other than that
Umberto Guidoni


Janani Vishwanathan asks
My name is Janani Vishwanathan. I have an interest in Astronmy, and have a few questions to ask you. Recently, from what i have heard a mouse is said to be found in Mars. Is this true? If so, is ther a chance for other living organisms to live in Mars? Another thing that bothers me is that in Eart the sky is blue during the day and black during the night. in space does the sky follow the regular colour pattern as in Earth? And finally, how exactly is a light year used to measure the distance in space? Was the diameter of large common objects in space like the sun measured in terms of light years?
I would highly appreciate if you would answer my questions.

Umberto Guidoni replied:

Dear Janani,
You ask me many questions and I will try to answer them all. I don't think they have found a mouse on Mars. What I heard that there are indications that life might be possible on Mars. In space the sky is always black even with the sun. The light year is only a way to measure distances. In space, the distance between two stars is so big that we should use numbers with too many digits so we prefer to use another unit defined as light year - equal to the distance that light is able to travel in one year (300,000 km x number of second in a year).
I hope I was clear


Year 5M Ridgeway Primary School,UK wrote:
Please sir, would you tell us the answers to some of these questions:
1. What is it like in space ; how do you feel?
2. What do the planets look like?
Please send us a photo of space and the planets(if you can). We hope you are enjoying yourself, and are not too lonely.
Thank you
from the students of Ridgeway School (Y5M)

Umberto Guidoni replied:
While we are orbiting around Earth, I can see the entire world in 90 minutes. This is a breathtaking view and I try to view outside when I have a free moment. Being in space is unlike anything on the ground. You can float weightlessness in the cabin and you can see 16 sunrises and sunsets in one day.
Umberto Guidoni


John Machielsen, The Netherlands, wrote:
Hello Umberto,
Do you have any trouble with eating spaghetti in space, this is a question of my cousin Alisha watching ISS live here in the Netherlands and seen something's floating around. She is 10 years old and is very interested in space. Thank you for reading and we hope we will have an answer from you so she can tell about it on school. Bye bye, and have a nice mission and God bless you all and we will pray for a good landing.
Your sincerely Alisha and John in the Netherlands

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Hello Alisha and John,
Eating in space is not a problem, however it might happen that some little bit of food escapes and starts floating around. In orbit there is no weight and that is why we can float in the Space Station. Yesterday I saw your country from space on one of our orbits passing over north Europe.
All the best
Umberto Guidoni


Sara wrote from Turin, Italy:
Hi, my name is Sara. I am 6 years old and I live near Torino (Italy). I' d like know:
1) when a child like me could fly like you to make a free-hand drawing of the earth and moon?
2) how can I explain to my infant school friends the earth and the moon vision from your flying position?
3) if I fly with you, can I see my great-grandmother who is living in the sky ?

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Cara Sara,
ti rispondo in italiano. Tu mi scrivi dalla citta' dove e' stato costruito "Raffaello", il modulo italiano che abbiamo attaccato alla Stazione. Credo che quando sarai piu' grande la tua generazione sara' in grado d viaggiare verso la Luna e magari Marte, te lo auguro di cuore. La vista della Terra dallo spazio e' bellissima, possiamo fare un giro intorno al nostro pianeta in 90 minuti. Per la tua nonna in cielo, bisogna viaggiare molto piu' lontano di quanto ho viaggiato io, ma lei sicuramente ti guarda da lassu'
Umberto Guidoni

Dear Sara,
You write to me from the city where "Raffaello" was built, the Italian module which we have attached to the Space Station. I believe that by the time you grow up your generation will be able to travel to the moon and maybe even to Mars, I hope so with all my heart. The view of the earth from space is beautiful, it takes 90 minutes to travel around the earth. To meet your grandmother in the sky you would have to travel much further than what I have travelled, but I am sure that she watches you from up there.


Question from Paolo Colona, Italy:
Dear Umberto!
First of all: many compliments and congrats for your fabulous
career! :-)

This is the director of the SCIS (Servizio per la Cultura e l'Informazione Scientifica) who's writing you for a simple question: how does the night side of the Earth look like from space? I mean: can you clearly see cities and main roads from your privileged point of view?

We're concerned about light pollution, wasting of energy and misuse of resources, your answer could be important in promoting measures for dramatic savings in public and private lighting. Congratulatins for another achievement: we've never seen before so many images from space and scientific news on Italian TV! ;-)
Best whishes, Paolo Colona.

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Caro Paolo,
penso di poterti rispondere in italiano, Durante la parte notturna dell'orbita si possono vedere le citta' molto bene e le zone piu' sviluppate del mondo sono particolarmente luminose.

During the nocturnal part of the orbit, the cities can be seen very clearly and the most developed areas of the world are particularly bright and luminous.


Question from Adam Bootle, UK:
I was just wondering if you have been able to watch the EVA's yourself today, could you watch the astronauts through your windows or did you have to watch them on a monitor like us on Earth. Hope you are still enjoying your stay!

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Hi Adam,
I was able to watch Chris and Scott from the shuttle overhead windows, when they were translating from the US lab to the shuttle cargo bay. At the end of their space walk they knocked at the aft windows to say hello to us and we had very nice shots of them outside. I am enjoying every bit of my voyage in space. Today we have attached the Italian module and we are ready for the second EVA tomorrow.
Umberto Guidoni


Question from Richard Baker:
Russia has announced that it could launch a manned mission to Mars within 20 years! Will you keep on training in the hope of a place on such a voyage?

Umberto Guidoni replied: I will probably be too old for the trip to Mars in 20 years from now. However I believe that is going to happen maybe earlier than expected. I hope the Space Station would help to develop the technology to travel beyond low earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.


Question from Knut Lareng:
I have just come home from a rehearsal on classical music (Verdi and Wagner) that in June 2001 will be directly broadcasted to 23 countries . This is the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir that will perform.
I wonder,- Silence in space,- is this silence doing as good for mans mind as beautiful music ? Or.- are the pictorial impressions you receive substituting the most beautiful music on earth ?
I whish you the very best of luck
Knut Lareng

Umberto Guidoni replied:
Dear Knut,
On board the shuttle the fans are always running and there is not such a thing as a real silence. However the view of the Earth against the blackness off space give the impression of a cosmic silence. Since you mentioned Verdi I have with me a CD with some of Verdi's overture I like to listen during the short time off.
Umberto Guidoni

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