Specialist Orientation

From: Mission Control
To: Your Class
Subject: Let the Training Begin!

Once you have received your acceptance into our program, you will become "Specialists in Training." After you successfully complete the training materials, you will begin pre-mission preparation as Mission Specialists.

For your training you will need to read and understand the materials in the "Training Manual."

Here are some details about your upcoming mission that will help prepare you for the training ahead:

Time: Your e-Mission will take place during the solar storm event of February 14, 2001.

The Situation:

Space Weather
• Space Weather. On January 17, 2001, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center (NOAA/SEC) reported an S-class solar flare, category 5. This was the fourth largest solar flare ever recorded. The data suggested that on February 14, 2001, after the sun completes another rotation and the solar flare faces the earth once again, we might experience the largest solar storm on record.

• During the January solar event, people around the world reported unusual disturbances. Night-sky-watchers witnessed spectacular northern lights farther south than usual. Global low-frequency radio communications were disrupted. In Canada, power stations in remote areas of British Columbia were overloaded causing an 18-hour power failure. The North American Verizon telecommunications satellite, T-144, failed. For thirteen hours, cell phone users lost service. Three other critical navigational satellites shut down temporarily. Pigeon farmer Hank Fricasee reported losing three homing pigeons. The radiation shower had disrupted the birds' "navigational systems".

Radiation Levels
• Radiation Levels. During the January 12-hour storm, space station astronauts were exposed to 100 to 1000 times the normal daily radiation dose. Mission Control advised the astronauts to adjust the station's position and to follow standard shielding procedures to reduce exposure. If the solar storm on February 14 is as severe as predicted, the astronauts will be exposed to record-high levels of radioactivity.

Power Systems
• Power Systems. The January 17 storm disrupted the space station's electrical power system. The storm affected the Photovoltaic arrays that generate the station's electrical power. Some systems had to be shut down. Engineers in Mission Control feared the power disruption was permanent. Fortunately, power was restored as the storm subsided.

Life Support Systems
• Life Support Systems. Tier I and II command-and-control computers operating the station's life support systems stopped communicating momentarily. The atmospheric monitors inside the space station recorded low levels of oxygen and high levels of carbon dioxide. The cause of this problem is still unknown. Mission Control has since uploaded new software.

Your Task
Over the next days and weeks you will learn about four topics related to this mission: Space Weather, Radiation, Power, and Life Support. To be prepared to assist the astronauts during a similar emergency, you will need to gain certain knowledge and skills before the mission begins.

It is important to learn about a number of important scientific concepts and how they are related, such as:

• Atoms and molecules, the parts of an atom, and the forms of matter
• The sun, space weather, and how atomic particles create conditions that are dangerous for the astronauts
• Magnetism on the earth and the sun
• Electromagnetism, electricity, and magnetism
• Electricity, electrical power, solar cells, and batteries
• Human respiration, atmospheric pressure, and gases
• Issues in radiation health

• On mission day, your mathematical and communications skills will be put to the test. Practice the mathematical procedures needed for the mission. Make sure you are familiar with concepts such as percentages, subtraction, multiplication, and the use of graphs and tables.
• Communications skills include the ability to communicate under pressure using both writing and speaking.
• Team skills require that you work well with a variety of people.
When you have completed your training, you will qualify to be a Mission Specialist. Managing the space station requires teamwork, planning, and clear-headed problem-solving abilities, especially in high-pressure, emergency situations.

Good luck! Remember, "Failure is not an option"