The morning started with a visit to the Neutral Bouyancy Lab. where we saw divers preparing the pool and ISS mock up for 2 Astronauts in training. It was then back to the Johnson Space Centre to test our heat shields and thermal protection for our marsmellows (marshmallows). The afternoon was spent scuba diving at the Astronaut Training pool followed by a problem solving challenge. This evening we are out for dinner then we are going to take in a movie.
The traditional style breakfast this morning included natto (fermented soy beans) which were an acquired taste but something we were all eager try. After our interesting breakfast, we packed our bags and got in a coach to the lake. On the way, our guide Keiko, taught us the numbers up to 20 in Japanese and told us about Kyoto (our residence for the next few days) and how it used to be the capital city of Japan.
When we arrived at the lake, we got on a pirate ship and sailed to a volcano. The ride was very beautiful and there were pirates made out of plastic on the top deck. It was extremely windy and cold, so a lot of people went below deck to have some snacks in peace.
We then got on some cable cars to the top of the volcano. The view was also quite breathtaking and we spent most of the journey frantically waving to people in the other cars (only 2 of them waved back). Despite our futile attempts having few results, we persisted in our endeavour for the entirety of the journey.
When we reached the top, we could barely see anything due to the violent wind and the thick smoke coating the side of the mountain. This particular volcano was famous for black eggs. They are made in a natural chemical reaction and if you eat them, you are meant to gain 7 years of life. Naturally, most of us tried them and they tasted surprisingly nice. The coach met us at the top of the volcano and took us back down.
We arrived at a station and waited patiently for our train. What we didn’t know was that the whole station was dedicated to bullet trains. We soon found out when we suddenly heard a thunderous rumbling coming towards us and before we could look, a train was racing past us, scaring the life out of us! After a few more similar events, we got used to the deafening trains and eventually, ours arrived. The train was surprisingly still and we could barely tell that we were speeding through Japan at 260 km per hour (except for the blurring buildings outside the windows, of course).
We soon arrived at our new hotel – a very modern and fancy building- and most of us seized the opportunity for some more shopping in the mall across the road from our hotel. After some intense shopping, and when we had settled in to our rooms, we went to dinner at a semi-traditional restaurant. We were given a platter of food for us to cook on a pan in the middle of our table. The food was very nice, but we struggled a lot with making our food actually edible!
We then headed back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before another jam packed day.
This afternoon we’ve been learning about materials and their ability to prevent heat being transferred. Each team has had to buy samples of these materials to build a heat shield and a container to stop a marshmallow from freezing in liquid nitrogen. Later in the week we will get to test these……..the competition has started!!!