Knight Times

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Knight Times

Knight Times

Mrs. Nath – Member of The Analog Astronaut Team in Poland


Space exploration is a topic with so much future potential, and one way we can further our understanding of outer space is by simulating other environments similar to it here on Earth. Mrs. Nath, our Biotech teacher, was elected as a member of the Analog Astronaut Team in Poland last summer. Her team was the world’s first team full of women of color. She explained how she was accepted, saying “The program for the analog astronaut at Lunares Space Station was an application which I came to know through a friend after attending the Analog Astronaut Conference in Tucson early April last year. We applied around probably September last year, and I got confirmation around November that I got selected for the program. The program was to be an analog astronaut, which means an astronaut in a simulated environment where we collect data for real life situations for real astronauts to go out in space.”

When I asked Mrs. Nath about how it feels to be one of the members that took part in the program, she recalled that “This program was the world’s first analog astronaut that was a full team of women of color. Six women of color for the very first time in the whole entire world was fascinating. It was very special, and I feel very humbled that I was able to be one of the program participants.  It just felt wonderful to be able to interact with sisters who had some commonalities.”

As for the conditions during her time in Poland, she stated that they were extremely restrictive, but she was still able to bond with everyone else. “We were not allowed to leave the habitat for 14 days. We were locked inside the habitat, and the living quarters were extremely constrained. We did have a good kitchen where we were allowed to cook food for the first seven days. For the next seven days, we were on freeze dried food due to an experiment to look at blood sugar levels in humans in isolated conditions. It was extremely fun because we bonded really well. At times I was the teacher, and everyone else was like a student. Other times, someone else took on the role of master in what we were doing. For example, when we had medical doctors and were looking at scans, someone was a teacher and the rest of us were students. It was a very continuous atmosphere for learning.”

Recalling her experience, “it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience because we spent 14 days isolated in a hub that was very restrictive. We did not have any stimulants like coffee, tea, chocolate, or sugar. We were not allowed to. We had to do missions that simulated the lunar environment connected to the habitat where we actually had to do expeditions like going out to the moon, finding things, bringing items back to the hub, which was the space station simulation, so on and so forth. It was absolutely fascinating, and in the 14 days we actually tested robots that were from the Netherlands, robots from Japan, and AI tools. I was in charge of the bio lab as a bio lab manager, so we did science experiments there, and all the data we collected would be potentially used by space organizations and space institutions for real astronauts.”

Mrs. Nath believes this experience will help future astronauts in a myriad different ways. “The data that we collected during the 14 days of the Analog Astronaut Program including everything such as dexterity tests from extravehicular activities, testing robots, looking at psychological tests like stress tests to observe how much we were stressed because we were not exposed to the outside environment. All of these experiments that we collected data on will be used to aid future astronauts. We looked at plant growth and how we can facilitate more conservation in space habitat with minimal use of resources. We also tested blood sugar levels and how they change based on freeze dried food in comparison to non-freeze dried food. So all of this is going to help future astronauts in planning their missions.”

In terms of future astronaut missions, Mrs. Nath is most excited for more inclusivity and a heightened diversity. She mentioned “the technology is already there; it’s more about the accessibility to people and astronauts”. Mrs. Nath explains she works in STEM for her students. “It’s the students who motivate me to work in STEM. I wish to see every student’s dream come true and for me to be able to facilitate that. Being a teacher at ACP is an awesome experience and that’s the reason I work in STEM.” I asked how Mrs. Nath feels about her accomplishments, and she responded with “I feel extremely humbled that I got selected to be one of the top six female women of color Analog Astronaut Mission participants. I am very excited about the things that we did. I got to learn a lot, I got to experience a lot of new things. I am very humble that I got the chance to do it, and it makes me feel special. It makes me feel blessed.” We are so proud of Mrs. Nath for her accomplishments and are excited about the future of space exploration! Go Knights!

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