Students from the Osage Nation were given the opportunity to ask questions of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann about all things space on Wednesday.
Through a remote video link from the International Space Station to Pawhuska, Mann, a member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the first Native American woman to go to space, answered questions that ranged from how the space station is powered to whether astronauts grow tomatoes. Mann has been on her ISS mission since Oct. 5.
She also discussed how meteors can be monitored from space and announced an upcoming cargo ship that will deliver scientific materials for an experiment called Veggie 5. The program will allow astronauts to determine the best way to grow dwarf tomatoes in different growth environments in space. At the end, astronauts will taste the tomatoes to decide the best one, she said in the video.
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“This is important because when we go to Mars on a two- to three-year mission, the freeze-dried food that we have will lose its nutritional value over that time, so we will need to supplement with freshly grown fruits and vegetables, Mann said.
Mann ended the session by demonstrating a zero-gravity flip out of the video shot.
The Osage Nation STEAM program — emphasizing science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics — allowed students to gear up for the event with space-related activities that included a summer rocket launch, an Osage Nation press release states.
“This event really embodies what we’re trying to do here, and we appreciate that NASA shares our mission to educate and inspire Native youth,” Mary Wildcat, the Osage Nation education department director who worked with NASA team members to set up the event , said in the release.
Osage students from the community and from the Osage Nation’s Daposka Ahnkodapi Elementary School, an Osage language and culture immersion school in Pawhuska, participated in the event at the Osage County Fairgrounds.
The students will be able to remember this moment “for the rest of their lives,” Patrick Martin, superintendent of Daposka Ahnkodapi, said in the release.
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