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WATCH | How Do Astronauts Communicate In Space? NASA Astronauts Raja Chari & Kayla Barron Show The Non-Verbal Ways

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New Delhi: Facial expressions, hand signals, body language, and sign language are the various non-verbal ways of communication people use on Earth.

Did you know that astronauts in space communicate non-verbally too?

NASA recently released a video online in which Expedition 67 crew members Raja Chari and Kayla Barron can be seen showing some of the non-verbal ways of communication used in space.

NASA astronaut Chari said that during space operations, including spacewalks, communication is hugely important. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station talk to each other, as well as people on the ground. Chari explained that they have radios for communication, but there are several instances during which they need to communicate non-verbally.

Chari said that sometimes, an astronaut's ears may not be clearing fast enough because the pressure is changing. There can also be instances when one wants to signal a fellow astronaut to stop. In such cases, the "HOLD" signal can be used, Chari said. It can also be used to point out something that seems abnormal aboard the orbital outpost.

When astronauts want to check on each other, they use the "OKAY" hand symbol, NASA astronaut Barron said. The astronauts use the symbol as a question as well as an answer.

Barron explained that if she is pointing at Raja and then giving him the "okay sign", she is asking, "are you okay?". And if Chari is okay, he will respond with an "okay sign".

During stressful activities such as spacewalks, just a look at a fellow astronaut or cosmonaut's face can tell whether everything is going to plan, or whether he or she has reservations. Chari said that sometimes, one's facial expression may signify, "Maybe we should stop and talk about this."

He said all this can be done with just a glance, even through the glass of the space helmets.

Chari said that if astronauts are flying in formation, which they practise in the T-38, they use hand signals just to keep up with the skills. Two or more aircraft travelling and manoeuvring together in a disciplined, synchronised, predetermined manner is known as formation flying. In other words, it is the flight of multiple objects in coordination. The T-38 Talon is a twinjet supersonic jet trainer produced by American aerospace firm Northrop Grumman. Basic astronaut training at NASA includes T-38 courses. Anyone who did not fly a T-38 before they got to NASA learnt to fly a T-38 once they joined the astronaut corps. Mission specialists who do not sit at the controls have to record four hours a month at the stick of a T-38.

Chari added that one of the most common things while flying in formation is transmitting numbers with hands. He said that transmitting the numbers one, two, three, four, and five are pretty easy.

He explained that one transmits the numbers six, seven, eight, nine and ten without taking their hands off the stick by turning the hand horizontal. The same thing can be done with air pressure.

Chari gave an example that if he had a problem with his spacesuit, and Barron was trying to ask him what his oxygen pressure is, and he could not talk, because he had a communications problem, he could still use hand signals to tell Kayla what his oxygen pressure is. He also said that he could do a combination of those numbers to transmit to Kayla non-verbally, what the state of any of his values on his suit is. The parameters could be suit pressure, water pressure, temperature, and different numerical values. It is possible to indicate all these values using hand signals.

Chari and Barron also demonstrated some of the non-verbal modes of communication used in space.

During one such demonstration, Barron pointed her finger to herself, and waved her hand across her ear. The fact that she pointed her finger to herself signifies that she was facing a problem. By waving her hand across her ear, she wanted to tell Chari that she can't hear.

Then, Chari gave the example of a scenario in which the astronauts faced a loss of communication, and Barron came to check on him while he was out on a spacewalk. Chari then moved his finger round and round and asked Barron what he was trying to say.

Barron explained that through this signal, Chari would be trying to communicate with her that they need to speed things up. Maybe he has a problem that is accelerating or getting worse. This means he must be trying to signal that it is an urgent situation there.

News Source: ABP Live, 25 April 2022


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