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International Space Station Siren [scien…ce |2016-04-18]

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Ever wonder how the International Space Station alarms sounds? This emergency alert is the last thing astronauts on the ISS ever want to hear as they work 400 km above Earth in the vacuum of space.

This sound was sent to us by the Columbus Control Centre, near München, Germany, the operations centre for ESA astronauts and the Columbus laboratory, part of the orbiting weightless research centre.

The alarm is sounded on the International Space Station to alert astronauts to life-threatening emergencies such as loss of pressure or fire. The astronauts would immediately convene near their Soyuz spacecraft that serve as lifeboats, but these kind of emergencies are extremely rare and the alarm has sounded only a handful of times despite the Space Station having been inhabited since 2000.

Most astronauts on a six-month space flight will only ever hear the sound during a practice session.

Regular 'fire-drills' are performed to make sure that even in a worst-case scenario everybody knows what to do. Mission controllers from the international partners that run the Space Station in Russia, USA, Europe and Japan re-enact scenarios with the astronauts in space. In critical situations the teams on ground need to communicate efficiently, act quickly and coordinate a solution between each other and the astronauts flying 400 km above them.

Image credit: ESA/NASA

Audio credit: ESA, CC BY-SA IGO 3.0


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