Volume: 01, Issue: 13 09/24/2003 
Astronaut Carl E. Walz, Expedition Four flight engineer, plays his keyboard for some crewmates.
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Other Articles in This Issue:
NASA Keeps Watch Over Isabel
Get Set for DIME Drop Days
And the Winner Is . . .
Chat Live with Planetary Geologist Dr. Aileen Yingst on October 1, 2003

Space Symphonies

If you were about to spend several months 400 kilometers away from Earth, in a space no bigger than a three-bedroom house, what would you bring with you? What personal items would you be unable to live without? These are the types of questions the psychological support teams ask astronauts before they leave Earth. As it turns out, quite a few astronauts onboard the International Space Station request a musical instrument.

Many astronauts pursue music as a serious hobby, and there is even an astronaut rock-and-roll band. But playing a musical instrument in a microgravity environment isn't as easy as it is on Earth. The simple act of blowing across a flute or pressing on a keyboard has an equal and opposite reaction on the astronaut. If the proper precautions are not taken, the astronaut could float away from the instrument.

But floating isn't the only problem. Some electronic instruments can give off toxic fumes that would dissipate in an open environment, such as a house. However, the environment in the ISS is closed. Such items need to be carefully tested so that the astronauts are not harmed.

To find out more about the musical antics aboard the space station, and to hear the astronauts play, visit:

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