Hanging out with an Astronaut

April 17, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Our group was lucky to have Piers Sellers come out to talk and spend the day discussing his research with us this week. Apart from being an incredible, and very accomplished climate scientist (ie my current career track), he has also flown on two different shuttle missions to the International Space Station! In the course of those two mission he has logged 41 EVA hours in 6 different spacewalks.

Piers (I tried to call him “Dr. Sellers” and he made fun of me) gave a great talk about what it’s really like to go into space. I was surprised by little facts like it only takes about 3 minutes to reach orbit in the shuttle, that Russian cosmonauts are so superstitious that they all pee on the wheels of the shuttle before getting in, and that the inside of a space suit smells like bacon on an EVA.

After spending the day at the department, my adviser threw a very nice party for Piers, and Mark happily came out to meet him. We all three had a great conversation about rock climbing, and Piers said that his experiences climbing in the mountains were “miserable.” Ah well, I guess it’s not for everybody!

Mark, Kate and Peirs Sellers