Astronauts Are Gearing Up to Celebrate the New Year in Space (Video)

Astronauts on the International Space Station have New Year's Day (Jan. 1) off, so how will they ring in the New Year, and how will it compare to their year-end traditions on Earth?

In a new video from NASA, some of the current residents of the space stationshare their favorite New Year's traditions (both on the ground and in space), and hinted at how they might spend the holiday. In past years, some of the station crews have engaged in rather enthusiasticyear-end celebrations.

"In Japan, in the morning on New Year's Day, people go out and watch the first sunlight," Japanese astronaut and station flight engineer Norishige Kanaisaid in the video. "I have a memory with my father of walking in a very, very cold early morning in Tokyo to watch the first sunrise [of the year]. It's a fond memory for me." [Holidays in Space: An Astronaut Photo Album]

Of course, the "first sunlight" of 2018 might be hard to define on the orbiting laboratory. The space station orbits Earth at 17,500 mph (28,000 km/h) and completes an orbit every 92 minutes. As such, the crewmembers experience 15 or 16 sunrises and sunsetsevery day. In 2015, the station crewmembers said they decided to ring in the new year 16 times, once for each "midnight" they experienced.

NASA astronaut and flight engineer Joe Acaba said that when he was a kid, his family would always host a New Year's party, and at midnight, his father would serve homemade chili.

"The big treat for staying up that late was my dad's chili," Acaba said. "We'll see what we do up here [on the space station], if I can even stay up that late. I think we have vegetarian chili, and we'll see how that competes."

Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and station commander Alexander Misurkin also might be celebrating on Jan. 7, which is Christmas Day in the Russian Orthodox Church (but most Russians open gifts on New Year's Eve). Jan. 7 is a Sunday, so crewmembers will have the day off.

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Calla Cofield
Senior Writer

Calla Cofield joined's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter