Look skyward at dawn or dusk and you may be able to see a bright, fast-moving object. It’s neither a star nor a comet, and it’s entirely man-made. Say hello to the International Space Station (ISS).
Click start to play today’s crossword where the ISS appears in one of the clues.
The ISS is the third brightest object in the night sky and can be easily viewed with the naked eye. Here are some other facts about this amazing observatory/spacecraft that will amaze you:
1. Man’s Greatest Achievement
Often described as the best thing ever done by humans, the ISS is a cross-cultural collaborative peacemaking project – one of the most successful of all time. It is not just a spacecraft, but a laboratory and an observatory, which can accommodate up to 10 people at a time and floats 386 km above the Earth’s surface. It was built in 1998 and has been operated by 15 countries, including the United States, Russia and Japan.
2. It’s huge and faster than a speed ball
The space station orbits our planet 16 times a day, traveling at 28,000 km/h, which is 10 times faster than a bullet fired at Earth. And although it’s just a bright spot seen from the ground, the ISS is the largest object ever made, according to the Google Arts and Culture website, and is as big as a football field. It weighs 460 tons, but floats serenely in space as it circles the Earth.
3. Body Change Experience
Astronauts who stay on the ISS know in advance that they will experience a certain number of changes. One of the smallest changes that can happen is that calluses from astronauts’ feet will eventually fall off in space, leaving them soft, like a newborn’s feet! Other changes can be incredibly harmful – due to the lack of gravity, muscles and bones deteriorate, so astronauts make sure to exercise every day to stay fit.
4. Time slows down in space
Even when astronauts have been away for a long time on the ISS, they come back less aged than they would have on Earth. The reason, according to the US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), is relative velocity time dilation. This basically means that the high-speed travel of the ISS slows down time for them compared to the rest of us on Earth. It’s not a big difference – after six months on the ISS, astronauts are only 0.005 seconds faster than us – but it’s still a difference!
5. Daily activities become difficult on the ISS
How do you live in space, without gravity? Eating a meal and going to the bathroom become slightly more difficult tasks for astronauts. The ISS has two space toilets and astronauts are keen to use them. Their urine is filtered and turned into drinking water! As for food, since crumbs and loose liquids can be extremely dangerous on the ISS, drinks come in plastic bags with straws. All food consumed is on trays held by magnets.
Do you think you could live on the International Space Station? Play today’s crossword and let us know at [email protected]