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Alexander Gerst in space

The geophysicist Alexander Gerst is the eleventh German astronaut in space.

picture-alliance/dpa -Alexander Gerst
picture-alliance/dpa -Alexander Gerst © picture-alliance/dpa -Alexander Gerst

Alexander Gerst has been orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 400 kilometres on the ISS research station for six weeks now. The German astronaut will be living and working there until November. He has five "roommates" on board the ISS: the astronauts Reid Wiseman and Steven Swanson from the USA, and Maxim Surajew, Alexander Skworzow and Oleg Artemjew from Russia. Although Gerst's official function is that of board engineer, he will also be conducting scientific experiments.

Gerst was born in 1976 in Künzelsau, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. He studied geophysics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, and was awarded his PhD on volcanic activity at Hamburg University in 2010. As early as 2007, he was awarded the Bernd Rendel Prize of the German Research Foundation (DFG) for his geophysical studies.

Experiments for school students on the ISS

Gerst is Germany's eleventh astronaut in space. There is something special about his mission on the ISS: the researcher will also be conducting some experiments devised by school kids, and in this way pass on some of the fascination of space travel and the natural sciences to young people. The programme is called Action 42 and is a joint project of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Young Researchers ("Jugend forscht") foundation. One of the experiments, for example, will test the stability and behaviour of soap bubbles under weightless conditions. Do these fragile objects live longer in the absence of gravitation? Will they withstand a needle prick? And can the bubbles be set vibrating – or perhaps even moving – by techno music with its thumping bass notes? The results and video footage are to be published online soon once all the data have arrived on Earth.