See you in space 🚀
Sheffield Hallam and Northumbria Universities
I am a Physiotherapist and I have two degrees and a masters across Biomedical Science and Physiotherapy
I collected blood samples from people in hospitals, then became a physiotherapist, worked at the European Astronaut Centre and then started research on FRED which I hope will get me a PhD
FRED PhD student and UK Space Environments Association Coordinator
Northumbria University and the UK Space Environments Association
Meet my awesome space mascot Monkonaut Sam <a href="https://twitter.com/monkonautsam">click here</a> I am a Space Scientist and Physiotherapist trying to stop astronauts getting back pain with a device called FRED
I do science experiments at Northumbria University in Newcastle trying to find good ways of stopping astronauts getting back pain when they come back from space missions. We have an exercise machine called FRED which I am testing to see if it may be useful to reduce back pain in astronauts after space missions! FRED is a lot like a cross trainer that you or your parents might use in the gym to keep fit and strong…but you have to go really slow when you exercise on FRED and he has no resistance to your movements like other gym machines. The idea is that you have to learn how to control how your body moves and balances (a little bit like learning to ice skate!). Exercising with FRED helps build up small muscles deep inside the back that often get weak and small in people with back pain or people who dont have to hold themselves up against gravity (like astronauts in space!)
Here I am doing some science with FRED, if you look closely you can see I have strapped trackers all over myself which I used to find out exactly how I was moving during the exercise
Here I am doing science exercising on FRED! Can you see I have trackers strapped all over me that record exactly how I was moving while exercising?
When you go into space lots of things change in your body and astronauts do activities to try and prevent these changes. However, they still get back pain and so the science team I work with are trying to find out if FRED can help! Here is video I made for you about all this:
If you want to learn how to stay fit and healthy like astronauts you can also check out this awesome educational programme (Mission X):
You might not have heard much about back pain in space but it is a common problem! NASA explains what is happening in this video:
I am also looking forward to answering some questions with my space mascot – Monkeyland Space Agency Monkonaut Sam. You can find and talk to Monkonaut Sam on his Twitter account
My Typical Day
Everyday starts with a cup of tea – then I do science!
Being a scientist means most days are different and fun!
If I am running an experiment then I am usually with FRED in a lab getting people to exercise with him. I look at things like how people move and which muscles they use while exercising to see if FRED looks like he will help with back problems. I then spend lots of time looking at numbers and graphs of the experiment results and working out what we have discovered about FRED. I am also often on Skype and in the university talking to others about the science we are doing.
I also get to travel around too and have spent time working at the European Astronaut Centre in Germany and going to space meetings in Chicago and Florida where I visited the Kennedy Space Centre (and Disney World)!
What I'd do with the prize money
Donate it to Blue Abyss so they can show you all how we use deep swimming pools to train astronauts and test space equipment
Blue Abyss is building the world’s largest and deepest, multi-level, indoor research, training and development pool which will be the UK and Europe’s premier marine and space research facility. I have tagged up with Blue Abyss and would give them the money so they could run a live online virtual classroom to explain how we can train astronauts and test space equipment using deep swimming pools. All of you would be able to call in live to that, just like you do for I’m an astronaut get me out of here to learn all about it!
Tim Peake has been training in deep swimming pools for his mission too, which you can see in these videos:
You can learn about Blue Abyss here:
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Excited about space
What was your favourite subject at school?
Science and drama
What did you want to be after you left school?
I was not sure – but I followed my interests in space and that got me to where I am now!
Were you ever in trouble at school?
Not really in school – but I once got in trouble at the astronaut centre for asking the astronauts too many questions about their work over lunch (while they were trying to get a break!) when they would sometimes come and sit with me in the cafe!
What is the most fun thing you've done?
Learned to dock the Russian Space Ship (called Soyuz) to the space station with the astronaut trainers at the European Astronaut Centre. I also got to attend one of Tim Peake’s birthday parties!
Doing science to find out how I was moving while doing exercise with FRED
Human spaceflight always involves teamwork to make it happen! So working in human spaceflight means we often get to work with some great team mates. This was the entire team who worked with me running science experiments with FRED over the summer pretending we are in zero gravity!
Here I am at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany! This is where Tim Peake did a lot of his training for his space mission. I once worked here for several months in crew medical support and still get to visit for space science meetings!
This was a fun day!! I got to spend some time in the astronaut training hall at the astronaut centre and learn how to pilot a Soyuz spacecraft using this simulator. This is the same spaceship Tim Peake will be launching on! I managed not to crash it into the space station but I nearly got lost in orbit trying to find where the station was!
Here I am stood with models of two rockets, on the left is an Ariane rocket which Europe uses to launch equipment into space. On the right the Soyuz rocket, which is the same one that will be launching Tim into space during the launch zone period (if they launch on time)!!
This is a photo I took of a real launch pad! This was the actual pad where they launched humans to the moon and also where space shuttles used to launch from. Can you see the big pole sticking up at the top which protects the spaceships on the pad from lightning strikes (it is often stormy in the afternoon in Florida!). The big white round tank on the left is where they stored the rocket fuel! I was lucky enough to get a close up behind the scenes tour of the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida this year.
I’ve also been through a little bit of astronaut training! Here I am after completing an annual Astronaut Fitness Assessment. This is a regular fitness/medical check the space agency uses to check astronauts are fit and healthy for going to space. Tim will have completed this same check before his flight. By the end here I had been running very hard on a treadmill while they checked how well my heart and lungs were working – I was pretty tired by the end! I did this for a science experiment to check the test measured everything correctly!
The pool at the astronaut centre used to train astronauts how it feels to float in space! I sometimes used to swim here after work and occasionally astronauts would join! This is just like what Blue Abyss are building