Source: NASA/Astronaut Jessica Meir
Expedition 61 NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch are flight engineers who are currently working at the International Space Station (ISS). They concluded their third all-female extravehicular activity (EVA), often referred to as spacewalk, on January 20. The two made history on their first EVA together in October, as the first two women to work in the vacuum of space together. Astronaut Meir shared new selfie photograph yesterday (January 26) via Twitter, smiling beautifully in zero-gravity as Earth's reflection shined on the surface of her spacesuit's helmet. The photo was captured during last week's spacewalk she shared that she took the selfie with a Nikon camera in a 'protective housing' case.
Fine, visor up this time – but at least the magnificent Earth still makes an appearance too. All #spacewalk #selfies (and other photos) made possible with a Nikon D5 with a 28 mm lens in a protective housing (visible in center of 2nd photo). #SelfieSunday pic.twitter.com/AlmUjvCWDj— Jessica Meir (@Astro_Jessica) January 26, 2020
The spacewalk was conducted with the objective to upgrade a battery for one channel on a pair of the space station’s solar arrays, which are powered by the Sun to light up the laboratory rooms to conduct experiments. One of the batteries was not working optimally so brave Astronauts Koch and Meir replaced the old generation nickel-hydrogen batteries, that have been there for nearly a decade, with new lithium-ion batteries. During the 6 hour 58-minute spacewalk, they removed the last two nickel-hydrogen batteries from the ISS solar arrays. "Beautiful view out here," Meir said, as they installed the sixth and final new lithium-ion battery. The battery change was completed successfully, lithium-ion batteries are expected to provide a more efficient power capacity and last more years in operation.
As astronauts completed the battery installation, Astronaut Meir looked down at planet Earth and said:
"This has really been an amazing experience, being part of this Expedition 61 EVA team. Today is also Martin Luther King Day, a personal hero for both me and Christina. I will borrow his wise words for this moment- 'We may have all come on different ships, but we are in the same boat now.'"
While Astronaut Koch felt thankful for everyone in history who worked for civil rights and inclusion:
"We often say how much we owe to those who paved the way, and that doesn't just mean in spaceflight. It also means those who worked for civil rights and inclusion. That is why it is so meaningful for us today to be out here on this day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who paved the way, not only for us, but for so many that have a dream."
Once back inside the airlock at the end of the spacewalk, Meir added:
"When one has as spectacular view as we had today looking down on our one common home, planet Earth, his words resonate loudly."
This was the second spacewalk outside the station in 2020. "With your diligent work, you have restored the 4B [power] channel to full strength. We thank you for your work and it has been a pleasure to work with you," said astronaut Stephanie Wilson from inside Mission Control at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, from where she was helping to guide Meir and Koch through the spacewalk's tasks.
From inside the @Space_Station, @astro_luca snapped these #spacewalk photos, capturing a moment of teamwork that I will never forget. Halfway through another power channel of battery changes and looking forward to finishing up next week! pic.twitter.com/stZCsnyPNJ— Christina H Koch (@Astro_Christina) January 16, 2020
It is the third time spacewalkers have been all women, and the 45th spacewalk to include women. Last week's spacewalk was the third for Meir, who in total has spent 21 hours 44 minutes performing work outside the station, and it was the sixth for Koch who has spent a total of 42 hours 15 minutes spacewalking.
Astronaut Meir arrived in September 2019 to the station and is due to return sometime in April. While, Astronaut Koch holds the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, she arrived to the orbiting laboratory in March 2019 and is nearing the end of an extended duration mission, her return to Earth is scheduled for February 6. -that is a period of 300 days in space! Upon return, researchers will investigate what effects longer duration spaceflight caused in her body. According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, extended stays at the ISS similar to Koch's can help scientists gather data about the effects so doctors back on Earth are interested in knowing the changes in eye pressure, bone mass, as well as muscle strength. These are all known to worsen after a prolonged period of exposure to radiation in space. Studying the effects helps us understand how future long-duration voyages to the Moon and Mars will affect humans.
Follow me on Twitter Evelyn J. Arevalo