ESA to live-stream primary school students talk with ISS astronaut

24 Jan 2017

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet prior to his spacewalk aboard the ISS on 11 January 2017. Image: ESA/NASA

300 primary school students are in for a treat today (24 January) as ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will engage in a live video chat with the students at an event in Limerick Institute of Technology.

Given that they are an elite few, having a conversation with an astronaut about life in space is an incredibly rare opportunity. Hence, the news that 300 primary school students will get the chance to talk to one currently aboard the International Space Station (ISS) is quite the treat.

The 300 students and 50 teachers have descended on Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) from schools in Limerick, Kildare and Tipperary to talk to French ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

First time on ISS for Pesquet

With many primary school students harbouring dreams of taking to the stars, the in-flight call gives them the opportunity to ask Pesquet a number of questions on life in space.

These will include how we use space in our daily lives and how the many applications from space research have changed the way we live today.

The video link-up, which also includes participants from Portugal and Romania, is believed to be the first time a live video call has been made in Ireland with a European astronaut aboard the largest human-made object ever built in space.

This is also a first for flight engineer Pesquet, whose first voyage aboard the ISS launched in November of last year for the six-month Proxima mission. He is scheduled to return to Earth in May this year.


Thomas Pesquet during his spacewalk on the ISS. Image: Roscosmos/O Novitsky

A great opportunity to promote STEM

His mission over the course of the six months is to run a series of experiments, from testing for water contamination on earth and in space, to seeing if future spacecraft could be made easier to clean and monitoring what space radiation reaches the ISS and his body.

This latest event is part of a vast range of educational activities delivered by ESERO Ireland, to help support teachers in using space as a rich and inspiring context to teach science.

In Ireland, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded organisation aims to promote space as a theme to inspire and engage young people in studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Anyone else keen to watch Pesquet’s conversation with the students at LIT can do so from a live stream hosted below by the ESA, which will begin at 3.45pm IST.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic