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ESA Astronaut Thomas Reiter visits GSI



On 28th August Astronaut and ESA director Thomas Reiter visited GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung and FAIR’s management. On a guided tour he took a look at the facilities, was informed on existing cooperations with GSI, dicussed future projects with FAIR and told stories about his journey to space in the GSI colloquium.

The European Space Agency ESA has big plans for the next years. Sending new satellites in space, bringing astronauts to the international space station ISS, landing rovers on Mars and Moon. Thomas Reiter, director of Human Spaceflight and the European Space Operations Centre ESOC in Darmstadt, talked about these topics at GSI colloquium.

Cosmic radiation from the GSI accelerator
For many of these projects ESA needs detailled knowledge on cosmic radiation and its effect on humans and materials. As cosmic rays can be simulated uniquely well at GSI and in the future with FAIR, many cooperations with ESA are possible especially in biophysics and materials research. Thomas Reiter also visited the ESA laboratory at GSI.

Living in space
He encouraged GSI employees to hand in proposals for experiments on the ISS. During his two stays in space Thomas Reiter conducted 40 experiments including plasma physics. The attendees were particularly interested in an astronaut’s everyday life. Answering the question which comfort he had missed the most, Reiter said: „Of course you have not very much free time on board the ISS. Every minute is scheduled and you have a lot of tasks to cope with. But the amazing view on Earth and the continents that pass under you within hours compensate all strains. The experience was fantastic and I never want to miss it“

An orange like back then in space
Reiter did not complain about the food but he talked very enthusiastically about a grapefruit from a transport vehicle he ate after weeks of dry food. Laughing he accepted the orange which was then spontaneously organised by the attenders.

Thomas Reiter in the ESA laboratory at GSI.
Foto. G. Otto / GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung