Astronauts from around the world gathered to chat alongside scientists, doctors and celebrities in a video conference event called #SpaceConnectsUs to offer tips for living in isolation and to discuss the bigger picture and how we can emerge from this difficult period to improve the world.
Led and moderated by physicist and science communicator Brian Cox, the conversation was chock-full of serious, heartfelt and even surprisingly funny moments from icons including Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart, actor Allison Pill (who most recently played Dr. Jurati in the new "Star Trek" series "Picard") and retired NASA astronaut Nicole Stott.
Many of the participants offered their personal tips for how to get through living in isolation. Canadian astronaut Tim Peake, former NASA astronaut Tom Jones, Pill and Schweickart all lauded the benefits of staying active during this time (while, of course, safely social distancing).
Pill additionally shared that she and her family are having daily dance parties to stay active while staying safe. She added that, to prevent total chaos in the home, she probably won't be letting her 3-year-old child eat ice cream for breakfast every day. To this, Schweickart jokingly responded, "What's wrong with ice cream for breakfast? I mean, come on."
However, while the group discussed everything from life in Antarctica to what exercise was like in space during NASA's space shuttle program, the conversation really centered around the importance of staying connected and looking at the bigger picture.
"There are certain things that go beyond these walls and borders we build, and we are ultimately all connected together to each other and to our environment," said Anousheh Ansari, who flew to the International Space Station in 2006 as a space tourist. . She added that we are all "connected to this bigger universe, this mysterious universe that probably has more life and beings out here than just life on this planet."
Schweickart additionally pointed out that reminding ourselves of this innate connection could help us when this period of self-isolation and quarantine is over. "We need to be doing the same thing," Schweickart said about the world's concerted efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, "when it comes to climate, for example … It moves so slowly … we don't realize that we're all in it."
European Space Agency Director General Johann-Dietrich "Jan" Wörner agreed, adding that, just as we search for solutions to this pandemic, we need to search for climate solutions.
All in all, Stott summed up the group's overall message and sentiment beautifully: "As Rusty so adeptly has said … we need to leave this as crew of spaceship Earth, not as passengers."
This #SpaceConnectsUs livestream additionally included actor and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik, retired cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, photographer Murad Osman, actor Paulina Chávez, singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo and medical doctor Beth Healey.
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