QUESTIONS out of this world were put forward to Britain’s first astronaut at Portsmouth’s Guildhall.
To kick-start the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM), which this year is being hosted by the city, an audience got the chance to speak to Major Tim Peake, of Chichester.
About 400 people were at the Guildhall last night as part of the event being run by the University of Portsmouth and Portsmouth Festivities.
The Portsmouth Music Hub – a choir of primary school children – performed space-related songs.
Then people were able to ask Major Peake, who is training in Russia and will be heading to space in November 2015 – questions over Skype.
He said: ‘It was a pleasure to hear the choir sing, and also to speak to people in Portsmouth.
‘My role will be to research things like how the immune system copes in space, cardiovascular and stress and physical tests.
‘I’m so excited to have been chosen for this and I’m enjoying it.’
Questions asked ranged from finding out how astronauts slept and drank in space, to what natural sight he would like to see from the skies.
Afterwards a presentation on astrobiology was given by Dr Lewis Dartnell from the University of Leicester.
NAM is the largest conference in the UK for professional astronomers.
Dr Jen Gupta is from the University of Portsmouth’s institute of cosmology and gravitation.
She said: ‘We are very pleased to be hosting this national conference in Portsmouth.
‘We want to show people in the city that we are here and also what we do.
‘We are very grateful for Major Peake to have given us his time, as we know he is incredibly busy.
‘He answered questions very well and the audience reacted well to him.
‘We hope the younger children found it quite inspirational as you don’t get to speak to an astronaut everyday.’
Nicola Lyne, 29, who works as an international officer for the university asked what the most challenging thing has been so far for Major Peake.
He said that it was learning Russian.
She said: ‘I love going to talks and this one is pretty big for the city.
‘I was so pleased to hear Major Peake and glad I got to ask him a question, it was very exciting.’
And David Young, 29, a barman, said that it was interesting.
He said: ‘It was a really great talk, I enjoyed it.’