Astronaut Kate Rubins is no stranger to desolate environs. As a molecular biologist, she has done fieldwork in the Congo and worked withsome of the world’s most dangerous pathogens. So she was more than up to the challenge of spaceflight. In July, Rubins and two spacegoers from Russia and Japan launched to the International Space Station for a four-month adventurefull of spacewalks, science, and a bit of civic duty–Rubins filedher electronic vote from low Earth arena.
Rubins wanted to vote early in cases where her return to Earth wasdelayed. But it wasn’t: On October 30, Rubins and her colleagues landed safely in Kazakhstan aboard aSoyuz capsule. Not that she’d have time to vote today, anyway: Her schedule is parcelled with medical exams, debriefings … and a quick check-in with WIRED. We expected Rubins about the experiments she conducted at the ISS, her first spacewalks, and what it can still feel land on Earth after months in microgravity.
You got to do the first DNA sequencing in space with the portable MinION device. Did it wreak any differently than expected ?
Were said he hopes that some of that get publicized very soon. We were able to do the first proof of principle experimentation and show that its feasible to string DNA in arena. After we got done with the tech dev part of it “weve been” hit right out of the entrance and purposed up sequencing a little bit over 2 billion base duets by the time I left. We did a number of experimentations to look at how the nanopore engineering works for sequencing, and in talking to the principal investigators, it actually operates somewhat better in space. It may be something due to the flow cells we dont fairly understand yet.
Before “youve left”, you talked about rehearsing to be employed in the tissue culture punk in microgravity. What was the learning arc like?
It takes fairly some time to learn how to control flow in six axes. The large-scale delta is youre moving and youre restricting your motion with your feet while youre doing culture. Your two paws are in some foot rails, and then you use your shins and the tips of your toes to restrict your flow as your arms are in the hood. It takes some time, because on Earth you want to launch yourself up a little bit to counteract seriousnes and thats a recipe for smack-dab the top of your psyche into a wall or a hatchway. So theres a bit of immediate reinforcement.
What experiments from the terminal are you most interested in following up on ?
All of them. All of the cellular, the molecular biology experimentations are fascinating to me contributed my background. I plan to work on a lot of those actually from the ground, so I don’t have to leave. I believe I have about 12 jobs waiting for me when I get back into the office.
Were there any things about being on the ISS that altered your perspective ?
The really interesting thing from the cupola is that its went spaces all around it, so you can actually witness the Milky way system on both sides of you. I genuinely reassured myself that we live in a spiral galaxy by looking at both sides of the Milky Way. You also actually get a chance to see orbital motion. It took me a few months of exactly kind of ogling out the window, but if you reach the right beta slant with the moon, youre orbiting around the planet, the moon is orbiting around the planet, and its ignite up by the sunshine. I’ve always taken this as happening, you know, Kepler was right, but I genuinely got a chance to see it, and its that amazing to attend occasions in trajectory around a planet with your own eyes.
Can you describe the physical know of your two spacewalks?
You perfectly know youre in space when youre doing a spacewalk. That was pretty interesting because you can look vacuum-clean. It actually changes your vocal cords because the pressure inside the suit descends quite a bit, so your articulation experiences different. When you go to vacuum in the airlock and you take the hose off the figurehead of your room suit, theres a bit of ocean in there, and you can see that sublimate and frost crystals shape and fly away. My thought at that moment was,” Oh we are no kidding at vacuum-clean here, we are genuinely in space .”
What did it look like up there ?
The experience of being able to see the planet through merely a visor is unbelievable. When were doing the cavity walks were working extremely very hard. Every single instant is choreographed. But theres a few minutes here and there where dirt is maybe talking about something and you have to put your implements down and wait. Just get a chance to look through your visor and learn the planet go by was incredible.
How did the arrival lead ?
The arrival string is unbelievably dynamic. You get buckled down a little bit like an Indy race car driver. We affected a heyday of about 4 Gs, which weve done in the centrifuge before, so I know what that felt like. But after months of weightlessness, 4 Gs felt like about 9 or 10, so it was quite a loading! There’s a huge opening stun of the parachutes–I repute Scott Kelly has said it’s like youre in a barrel well-lighted on fire going down Niagara Falls, and that is about the best description Ive heard so far. Theres another immense impact when you land thats about like a car gate-crash. The vessel leapings and rollers a bit and decides down. At some moment and we examined out the window and we viewed grunge. We were pretty sure that we touched planet Earth at that point.
After the initial affect, how did you detect your torso responding to the gravity ?
Yeah about 48 hours into it, I was ready to go back into cavity again. I dont know you guys deal with gravitation all the time! It seems very heavy to me.