A group of fourth graders from Karachi got the surprise of their lives today when they wrote a letter asking American space agency Nasa (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) some questions about space and got replies from astronauts and space experts.
Students of The Cornerstone School in Karachi, Pakistan, had some questions for astronauts about travelling to space. Promoting curiosity in her students, their teacher helped them post the questions on Twitter. She tagged Nasa’s official Twitter account as well as some astronauts in hopes of getting a response.
The tweet soon started gaining attention as people began retweeting it to help make it viral. Eventually, astronauts and space experts took notice of it and replied.
The Emmy-nominated American science TV host Emily Calandrelli, who hosts Xploration Outer Space and Emily’s Wonder Lab, was the first expert to reply to the tweet.
A 10-year-old student Alisha had asked: “What fuel does a spaceship use?”
Calandrelli replied: “All different types! Some popular rockets that you’ll see will use a fuel plus an oxidiser. For example, something called RP-1 and then liquid oxygen. These are combined and then *ignited* and burned to create a big (controlled) explosion that moves the rocket!”
Nine-year-old Haniyah asked: “Is it true that it rains diamonds on Jupiter?”
The MIT-engineer replied: “It’s definitely possible!! The same physics and chemistry that creates diamonds here on Earth (putting carbon under super high heat/pressure) exist on planets like Jupiter, so some scientists hypothesize that it’s raining diamonds there. Wouldn’t it be fun to see that?”
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield who often shares space videos replied to 10-year-old Mahrukh’s question: “How do you feel when you get blasted off in a space shuttle?”
@Cmdr_Hadfield replied: “Mahrukh - I flew in the Space Shuttle twice. You feel violently shaken, squished, super-focused, excited, and lucky.”
He also replied to another student named Rayyan, who asked: “Do you get scared that your space shuttle might get lost?”
Along with a picture of Karachi from space, @Cmdr_Hadfield tweeted: “Rayyan - I wasn't scared we'd get lost. We had the Earth nearby, and used the stars to steer. I felt especially comforted when I flew over home. Here's a photo I took of Karachi - can you find your school?”
By October 15 morning, screenshots of the tweet were viral on other social media platforms as well. And Nasa scientists and space experts started replying to the questions on Reddit. Twitter users later posted these responses in reply to the teacher’s original tweet.
Tweep @tahaazher wrote: “Also these replies from Nasa scientists on @reddit. They have invited the students when the pandemic is over.”
That’s not all. The students got a reply from the control centre of Ariane 6, which is a launch system developed and manufactured under the authority of the European Space Agency. And the German Aerospace Center also sent replies to their questions.
The excited teacher, Aimun, shared an update with the reactions the students had when she handed them the responses that all the space experts had sent in.
Twitter users found the thread of questions and answers very heartening, and some even felt emotional after reading it.
Tweep @zainaconda tweeted: “Thank You for such a heartening thread.” And @BajwaAwais posted: "Finally something good coming from 2020."
Many Pakistani tweeps also commended the teacher for thinking of putting the questions on Twitter. @smoodwrites replied: "I'm really glad you did this. I was a super space-curious kid... Pakistan needs more teachers like you."