This week will see two astronauts perform a spacewalk from the International Space Station (ISS) as they collect samples from the station’s exterior to use in scientific research. The two astronauts will be NASA’s Loral O’Hara and European Space Agency (ESA)’s Andreas Mogensen, and the spacewalk will take place on Thursday, October 12.
If you’d like to watch the event live, NASA will be livestreaming the entire spacewalk on its NASA TV channel, and we have the details on how to watch laid out below.
What to expect from the spacewalk
Spacewalks are typically performed to perform maintenance on the station, such as the series of upgrades to the power system which have involved astronauts installing new solar panels to the station’s exterior over the last few years. But this event will be a little different, as its purpose is for scientific research as well as maintenance.
“On Oct. 12, O’Hara and Mogensen will exit the station’s Quest airlock to collect samples for analysis to see whether microorganisms may exist on the exterior of the orbital complex. They also will replace a high-definition camera on the port truss of the station and conduct other maintenance work to prepare for future spacewalks,” NASA explained in an update.
To search for microorganisms on the outside of the station, the astronauts will use swabs which they will pass over external surfaces using special tools. These swabs can then be tested for the presence of bacteria or other types of microbes, to see whether anything has survived in the harsh environment outside the station. As well as the vacuum of space, the exterior of the station experiences a wide range of temperatures depending on whether it is in sunlight or in shade, and is also exposed to more radiation than we experience on Earth’s surface.
Learning about microorganisms that can survive in such environments is important both to keep the station clean and free of potentially dangerous microbes, but could also help scientists learn about potentially beneficial microbes which can withstand harsh conditions.
The spacewalk will be livestreamed with coverage beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET (5:30 a.m. PT) on Thursday, October 12. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) and should last for around six hours.
To watch the live stream, you can either head to NASA TV’s YouTube page or use the video embedded at the top of this page.