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

Explore further: Image: Outbound ESA spacesuits

Related Stories

Image: Outbound ESA spacesuits

December 2, 2015

Roscosmos commander Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and ESA astronaut Tim Peake stand by the Sokol suits they will wear on launch day, 15 December.

Underwater James Bond

September 9, 2014

NEEMO – NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations – trains astronauts for life in space. Living and working in an underwater base is similar to being on a space station. This year, NASA has two NEEMO missions planned ...

Finding NEEMO

July 17, 2014

NEEMO – NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations – trains astronauts for life in space. Living and working in an underwater base is similar to being on a space station. This year, NASA has two NEEMO missions planned ...

ESA image: Astronaut Terry Virts in freefall

November 26, 2014

After a textbook launch and docking on Sunday night, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, NASA astronaut Terry Virts and Roscosmos commander Anton Shkaplerov boarded the International Space Station.

Recommended for you

Dwarf galaxies shed light on dark matter

January 23, 2017

The first sighting of clustered dwarf galaxies bolsters a leading theory about how big galaxies such as our Milky Way are formed, and how dark matter binds them, researchers said Monday.

One of the brightest distant galaxies known discovered

January 23, 2017

An international team led by researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the University of La Laguna (ULL) has discovered one of the brightest "non-active" galaxies in the early universe. Finding ...

Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

January 20, 2017

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

January 20, 2017

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small ...

Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

January 20, 2017

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.