Students at Bishop Guertin High School got a chance to speak to an astronaut in outer space on Friday. The project was the culmination of over a year of preparation by students at the Nashua private school to connect, via amateur radio, to the International Space Station.
At 12:56 pm today, Fred Kemmerer, president of the Nashua Area Radio Society and a mentor with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, made contact from his home with an antannae on the station, using the call number NA1SS.
“November alfa one sierra sierra - are you ready for the students' questions? Over,” he said, in a session livestreamed on YouTube.
Through the crackle came the voice of astronaut Shannon Walker, hurtling at 17,000 miles an hour above New England.
“I am ready for the students’ questions, November alfa one sierra sierra,” she replied.
Senior Aya Eyceoz went first.
“What landmark on earth looks most amazing from space?” she asked.
“Aya, you know what? I think the Grand Canyon looks most amazing from space. Sometimes when the light hits it just right it looks like it's raised above the earth as opposed to being a giant canyon,” Walker replied.
Sophomore Ethan Labbe asked what Walker brought with her to remind her of home (her answer: there's not much room for personal belongings up here, but she brought digital photographs of friends and family).
Since today was an all-remote learning day at Bishop Guertin, students connected to the call via their laptops at home. But Labbe says that didn’t make it any less exciting.
“I still got the feeling of awe,” he says. “No one really has answers for the things that go on there. It's just a big mystery. It just fascinates me - the size of it and sights to see. And I hope to answer some of those questions one day."
For ten minutes, students talked to Walker about life in outer space, before they lost signal, and ISS continued to make its way across the Atlantic Ocean.