Test your astronaut skills and help ESA

January 19, 2016
SA astronaut Alexander Gerst took this image circling Earth on the International Space Station during his six-month Blue Dot mission while doing a spacewalk outside of the weightless research centre. Alexander commented: "I do not have words to describe what we did today, but this photo gives a pretty good impression! " Credit: ESA/NASA

With ESA astronaut Tim Peake stepping out of the International Space Station tomorrow, have you ever wanted to know if you have what it takes to be an astronaut? ESA is offering a trial version of a test developed for future astronauts for you to try at home – and by taking part you will help us select a new generation of astronauts.

Trainers at ESA's European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany are always looking for ways to improve their methods. Part of the job is to find out who is suitable to become an astronaut in the first place.

One of the many challenges faced by is working in three-dimensional space. In a weightless universe, up can become down and left can become right depending on which way you are floating.

Everybody knows the feeling of disorientation on visiting a new city, and working in space adds a whole new dimension – literally. During a spacewalk this effect intensifies as the blackness of offers little for astronauts' brains to use for orientation.

Working and using objects in this environment is something astronauts must excel at and so is a key aptitude that trainers look for in selecting candidates.

Start the test

The head of ESA's astronaut centre, Frank De Winne, says: "ESA is not currently running a selection campaign but developing tests for astronaut selection takes time and needs to be done right."

Expedition 37 crew members pose for a crew portrait in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Pictured (clockwise from lower left) are Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, commander; Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryazanskiy, NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, all flight engineers. Credit: NASA

Your task is to move and turn an object to fit exactly in a new position in three dimensions. The task is made harder because all your moves need to be programmed beforehand and the goal is to use as few as possible.

European Astronaut Centre experts in robotics and spacecraft docking worked with psychologists to design the test.

ESA's Head of Astronaut Training, Rüdiger Seine, explains: "By 'playing' with the test online you will help the team validate it, essentially making sure it works. For us, the more people who participate, the better."

Click here to go to the test website and start thinking like an astronaut as you work your way through progressively harder levels.

André Kuipers captured his Russian crewmates performing a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. For safety reasons, he stayed inside his Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft for the duration of the spacewalk, which afforded him some excellent views of the cosmonauts in action. Credit: ESA/NASA

A screenshot of a test developed for future astronauts for you to try at home – and by taking part you will help ESA select a new generation of astronauts. Your task is to move and turn an object to fit exactly in a new position in three dimensions. The task is made harder because all your moves need to be programmed beforehand and the goal is to use as few as possible. European Astronaut Centre experts in robotics and spacecraft docking worked with psychologists to design the test. Credit: ESA

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