Try the Astronaut Selection Test!
Have you ever wondered what sort of activities you have to undertake when you apply to be an astronaut? Well, now you can try one yourself! ESA have just released an online game that tests a vital skill that all astronauts must possess, and they are inviting the public to have a go. The intention is to use the results to improve the program for future astronaut candidates during the selection process, so the more people who play with it, the better!
The test involves moving an object (slightly resembling a lego block) to another similar one in order to "dock" with it. However, there are a couple of catches: the block can move in three dimensions (up and down, as well as forwards and backwards) and rotate around different axes, and you must submit all the manoeuvres you wish to carry out before executing them. Only then will you know if you managed to dock successfully! You can click here to have a go.
Working in three dimensions is second nature to us on Earth, but to the astronauts who live and work in a gravity-free environment things can get a little more tricky. In the weightlessness of space, there is no set up, down, left or right - it is all relative to your current position at the time. That is why photos of the inside of the International Space Station can appear to show laptops stuck to the ceiling, or astronauts sleeping upright against a wall! Whilst on a spacewalk, the intense blackness of space can make this sensation feel even more disorientating as there are much fewer visual clues for their brains to determine which way they are currently facing. Being able to work effectively in an environment like that is a very important skill that all astronauts must have in order to complete a task and to do so safely. As such, games like this form an important part of the selection and training process.
Do you have it what it takes to become an astronaut? Play the game and find out!
This test has been created by the European Space Agency, the Swedish Defence Research Agency FOI, and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre.