Shenzhou-14 crew gives first lecture from Wentian lab module

By Yu Jianbin, Wu Ya’nan, People’s Daily

Taikonauts of the Shenzhou-14 crew Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe delivered their first live class from China’s space station on Oct. 12 to students on Earth.

It is the first space lecture from the Wentian lab module, the first lab module of China’s under-construction space station launched in July.

The “Tiangong Classroom” series is a well-known national brand for science popularization jointly held by multiple departments of China. It presents to students the mystery of the universe and brings to them the pleasure of exploration, so as to inspire their passion for space and science. The previous two lectures of the series delivered by the Shenzhou-13 crew were widely applauded.

The third lecture continues the interactive way between the Wentian lab module and the Earth. The three taikonauts “swam” into the lab module and showed the magical microgravity environment in space. Chen and Liu introduced scientific cabins in the module as Cai filmed.

Chen introduced the scientific glove cabin. which could provide an airtight and clean operation space in the lab module, making experiments easier and more controllable.

The life and ecology experiment cabin presented by Liu in the module is like a “space hotel” for species. It is used to study the influence of microgravity and radiation on life in space.

“The results of the experiments in this cabin will help mankind make the Moon and even Mars a long-term habitat,” Liu said.

Chen also presented a biological technology experiment cabin, noting that it is a fully automated mini biological lab in space. It could perform experiments such as cell proliferation and differentiation, and display the process of cell sample changes in real-time.

After the introduction, the “space teachers” began to demonstrate experiments And collect plant samples in space.

In a capillary effect experiment presented by Chen, the liquid level in a thin tube rose at a speed that was much faster without gravity than that on Earth. Liu sipped mango juice with a two-meter straw to show the students the motion and vibration of liquid in a microgravity environment.

“I had grown lettuce in Tiangong-2 space lab and recently ate some planted by Cai,” said Chen, while sampling thale cress plants and performing cryopreservation of the samples in their growing state in space.

He said all the collected samples would be preserved in a storage area with a temperature of minus 80 degrees Celsius. When the crew returns to the Earth, the samples will be handed to scientists for further research.

Chen was wearing a pair of mixed reality goggles when performing experiments. The goggles could enable him to work more efficiently and present students with a better view to observe the experiments.

During the question and answer section, the three taikonauts answered a number of questions raised by the students in biology and astronomy.

At the end of the class, the trio expressed their expectations for the students on Earth. “The Mengtian lab module will be launched into orbit soon, and we will witness the historical moment when China’s space station is fully completed,” Chen said. “We expect you guys to build our space home better in the future.”