Although there’s a lot of talk about tweeting from the International Space Station (eg @Astro_Soichi‘s photographs) and high definition streaming, such as happens during important events on NASA’s HD channel of NASA TV, there are other ways for the station crew to contact the ground. Like good old fashioned radio.
ARISS is the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station device. It allows radio ‘hams’ to get in contact with astronauts on the station, who have their own call signs, just like those broadcasting on Earth (though since the ISS tends to be in the line of sight for ten minutes in every ninety minute orbit, fast talking tends to be the order of the day). They tend to spend time talking with individual users and with selected schools. But yesterday, they also had a chat with the European Parliament, which happened to be hosting a three day exhibition organised by ESA Director of Human Spaceflight together with the European working group of the International Amateur Radio Union entitled “European Amateur Radio Benefiting Society – Emergency Communications, Education and Space”. American astronaut Timothy ‘TJ’ Creamer (callsign KC5WKI, using station NA1SS) spoke through the loudspeakers of the lobby to those gathered.
The seventy or so in the exhibition were later joined by a trio of ISS astronauts to chat about their use of ARISS as well as an MEP and former Cosmonaut. Further details here. The exhibition continues until Friday.