Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency and Shane Kimbrough of NASA conducted their latest spacewalk aboard the International Space Station (ISS) last Friday, riding the second of six new solar arrays as part of the ongoing work to modernize the station. The site looked like a disco in space, but this astronaut’s “dance” is actually an important pre-space walk, Digitartlends reports.
But before leaving the interior of the International Space Station, Pesquet and Kimbrough appear to be performing a little dance while fully donning their spacesuits.
In a Facebook post, Pesquet jokingly described the sequence as a “spacewalk dance” before providing a more complete explanation of the brief dance.
“We weren’t really dancing, but we were cleansing our bodies of nitrogen,” said the French astronaut. “We breathe pure oxygen and slowly all the nitrogen in our bodies is replaced with oxygen, which is much safer when going from high pressure (space station) to low pressure (space suit). Light exercise makes us breathe more oxygen and get rid of nitrogen faster.”
“Also, dancing is fun,” Pesquet added.
Detailing the procedure, NASA explains on its website that astronauts put on their spacesuits several hours before they begin their spacewalk with the suits compressed and filled with pure oxygen.
Inside their spacesuits, astronauts breathe oxygen to rid their bodies of nitrogen, which can cause gas bubbles to form in the bloodstream and tissues when they are out of focus.
These gas bubbles can cause astronauts to feel pain in their shoulders, elbows, wrists and knees, and this pain is called getting “bends” because it affects the places where the body bends, NASA said, adding, “Divers can also get bends.”
An alternative way for an astronaut to expel nitrogen is to spend a period of time in one of the space station’s airlocks, the compartment between the main body of the International Space Station and the space. The cabin pressure is then reduced in the airlock, allowing the astronauts to safely rid their bodies of nitrogen before exiting the station.
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