To All Student Researchers Now Engaged in SSEP Mission 14 to ISS – A Challenge for the Start of Program: Understanding Weightlessness – You Want Me to Take a Bathroom Scale Where?


To all SSEP Mission 14 student microgravity researchers, just before his return to Earth on Soyuz 33S, on May 13, 2013, Expedition 35 International Space Station Commander and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – the first Canadian to walk in space –released this video. Watch Chris (and his guitar) and see what weightlessness looks like. We are honored that we can share this with our two SSEP Canadian Communities participating in Mission 14 to ISS – Halifax Regional Centre for Education, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Edmonton Public School Board, Edmonton, Alberta. When watching this movie you’re invited to go to full screen on your computer and turn up the volume – maybe even project it on a large screen in a classroom and turn off the lights.

 

To all SSEP Mission 14 to ISS Community Program Directors: this Challenge is covered as part of the program start Skype for your community’s Local Team of Mission 14 educators. These Skypes are being conducted by SSEP National Program Director Dr. Jeff Goldstein through Friday, September 27, 2019.

This blog post is for teachers in the 33 communities across the U.S., Canada, and Brazil that just started SSEP Mission 14 to ISS. You are invited to use this Challenge with your students to get them thinking about the concept of microgravity (the technical name for the phenomenon of ‘weightlessness’). As part of this Challenge, students are asked to submit what they think is an answer in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below. Please encourage your students to submit answers, so that all students visiting this blog post can see what other Mission 14 students across the U.S., Canada, and Brazil are thinking. Let’s use this blog post as a social media platform for sharing thoughts about microgravity.

The solution to the Challenge will be posted to this SSEP National Blog on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. 

 

I’ve heard a lot about this weightlessness stuff, with astronauts having a great time floating around in space. I’ve even seen astronauts on YouTube videos and in movies (like Chris above), and they’re floating as if they weigh nothing at all. It just seems like maybe there is just no gravity in space? I really need to find out what’s going on up there!

Since they don’t have a spare seat on the next flight to low Earth orbit (at least not yet), I’m going to look far and wide to find an amazingly tall mountain whose peak rises to the Space Station’s altitude in orbit. My plan is to climb to the top of this mountain, look really fast in the big window on the Space Station (it’s called the cupola) as Station flies by my face, and see for myself if the astronauts are floating around.

The Space Station orbits the Earth close to 260 miles (420 km) above sea level, so that’s how high my mountain needs to be. By the way, crew and station are zipping along at 4.7 MILES PER SECOND (7.6 km/sec) relative to you sitting there at your computer. Bam. The Station just moved 4.7 miles. Really.

OK, it took some Googling, but I found that really tall mountain! See my mountain in the picture? It accidentally got captured in an old Space Shuttle photo. Mt. Everest is only 5.5 miles (8.8 km) high. MY mountain (Jeff’s Peak) is 260 miles (420 km) high. I found it south of the Land of Make-Believe, down a not too well traveled path. Still, you’d think someone would have noticed it since it’s 47 times higher than Mt. Everest. (Have you ever heard of Jeff’s peak? No? See, nobody knows about it!)

So this week, I’m going to take the time to climb my mountain, and in my hand is my trusty bathroom scale, spring-loaded and guaranteed to be accurate at any altitude. I’ll camp out at the top, and I’ll wait until the Space Station flies by, so I can look in the window and see if those lucky astronauts are weightless and floating around.

Here now the challenge to YOU—
So here I am on the top of my mountain, and the Space Station just flew by – Hey! They WERE floating around, and appeared totally weightless, just like Chris in the video above! On top of my mountain, at the exact same altitude above Earth as the astronauts, I now step on my bathroom scale to see my weight. If I weigh say 150 lbs when I’m standing on my scale in my bathroom at home, what will I weigh on top of my mountain?

Hint: You don’t actually need to calculate my weight. I’ll do that in the Solution to the Challenge. Your assignment—if you decide to accept it—is to guess what you think I’ll weigh and why. Hmmmm, lots of possibilities.

Submit your guesses below in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section, and remember to include why you think your guess is correct. Students of ALL ages are welcome to post a guess.

I’ll even give you a few days to noodle on this in class, and maybe at home with your parents. I’ll post the answer next Tuesday, October 1, 2019, right here at the SSEP National Blog. See you then, and good luck noodling!

Also – if you want to follow along with the latest news from the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), you are invited to subscribe to the SSEP National Blog at the bottom of the right column.

[**Metric system note: in the metric system, weight is measured in Newtons (N). 150 lbs is equivalent to 667 Newtons, which is the weight of a 68 kg mass at Earth’s surface.]

The solution to this challenge will be posted here on October 2, 2019.

 


The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space MuseumCenter for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

73 Responses to To All Student Researchers Now Engaged in SSEP Mission 14 to ISS – A Challenge for the Start of Program: Understanding Weightlessness – You Want Me to Take a Bathroom Scale Where?

  1. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 10:48 am #

    I think he will weigh less because he is almost in space, so he will weigh about 100 pounds.

  2. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 10:48 am #

    He will be 100 pounds because he is still on earth and he will be in space.

  3. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 10:49 am #

    I think he will 100 pounds because the mountain is heavier than him.

  4. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    If he is on a mountain as tall as the spaceship, how can he even step on the scale? He should be floating and so would the scale.

  5. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 10:51 am #

    I think he will weigh 0 pounds because he is in space and there is microgravity.

  6. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:42 am #

    I think he will weigh 10 lbs because there is micro gravity and there is no gravity in space. Astronauts have space suits so you wont jump as far because they are heavy.

  7. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:43 am #

    I think he will be 150 lbs still because he is still on Earth and there is still gravity pulling him down.

  8. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:44 am #

    He might weigh 5 or 10 pounds because in space, you might be about 120 pounds because there is no gravity.

  9. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:45 am #

    I think he will be 5 pounds because when you are in space you are weightless, but he still a little bit on the ground.

  10. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:46 am #

    I think he will weigh about 100 lbs because in space it is a different weight because has microgravity.

  11. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:47 am #

    I think he is still 150 pounds because he is still in the barrier and he wouldn’t be weightless. He is still on the mountain.

  12. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:48 am #

    I think he will weigh 25 pounds because he is closer to space but still not floating so he would weigh less.

  13. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 11:48 am #

    He will weigh 150 pounds because he is still on Earth.

  14. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 12:33 pm #

    He will not know because he won’t be able to stay on the mountain because he is in space and there is no gravity.

  15. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 12:34 pm #

    I think he will weigh a little less than 150 because he is a little lower than the ship. There is still gravity but there is only a little bit of gravity.

  16. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 12:35 pm #

    I think he will weigh about 20 pounds because in space there is zero gravity so he would weigh a lot less because there isn’t gravity.

  17. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 12:36 pm #

    He will weigh a little less because he is still in the Earth’s atmosphere, so he will have a little gravity to pull him down to stand on his bathroom scale.

  18. SL September 30, 2019 at 12:47 pm #

    I think that he will weigh less because when you’re farther way from earth, you weigh less, and if you’re on top of a really high mountain, you will way less. You just have less.

  19. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 3:00 pm #

    I think he will weigh nothing because when you are on Earth, the gravity holds you down, so you weigh more, but he is the same height as the astronauts.

  20. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 3:03 pm #

    I think he will weigh 75 pounds because he is not on the spaceship, so he vweighs something. But he is high above Earth so he is going to weigh less.

  21. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 3:05 pm #

    I think he is going to weigh about 9.15 pounds because he weighs 150 on Earth, but he is above Earth so he will weigh a lot less.

  22. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 3:06 pm #

    I think he will weigh less because he is out of the Atmosphere and when you are in outer space your weight goes down, so maybe about 50 pounds.

  23. Anonymous September 30, 2019 at 3:07 pm #

    I think he will weigh 50 pounds or less. On Earth he weighs 150 so when you go into space, that will only be 50 pounds.

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The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with DreamUp PBC and NanoRacks LLC, which are working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.