2
$\begingroup$

Why are these Soyuz Astronauts/Cosmonauts wearing sunglasses? Is there any scientific reason for this? (Please don't say they want to look cool) I have not seen Shuttle Astronauts wearing sunglasses after landing. @Hobbes in his answer, has said that Shuttle Astronauts enter a van and are not exposed to sunlight. But see, they are already exposed to sunlight when they walk down the stairs. Further, if it was to protect their eyes from sunlight, after all Soyuz landings, astronauts are not given sunglasses when they are still inside the capsule. So, it would be great if you could explain this.

Further, why are they covered by black blankets (with ROSCOSMOS logo) even though they are wearing their spacesuits? Is it so cold at Baikanour or Russia(as pointed out by @uhoh in his comment)? Even though it might be cold there, they are already wearing spacesuits which also have a threshold thermal protection system. So why do they need a blanket in addition to a bulky space suit? I think it is not biting cold there, as some crew other than those astronauts wear normal shirts and pants and not sweaters (You may take a look at the following image)

enter image description here

Or is the entire thing just a tradition?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It may just be good old Russian hospitality & taking additional measures, as a precaution, to ensure space travelers are well looked after immediately after their return to Earth. In the book Two Sides of the Moon, Alexi Leonov wrote of his experiences in the Soviet space program during the 1960s space race. He stated that the Soviets were careful about cosmonaut safety, particularly after the Bondarenko incident. Covering returning cosmonauts with blankets may just be long standing procedure, adhered to decades after it was introduced. $\endgroup$ – Fred Oct 17 '19 at 11:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred. Wonderful. I've learnt something new in your comment. I agree Soviets concerned about their safety. Planning to have another lunar lander for manned lunar exploration for redundancy is another example of this. I think your comment must be an answer. Do you think those cooling glasses are also a tradition? $\endgroup$ – Guru Vishnu Oct 17 '19 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ With much tongue in cheek, the Nigerian gentleman in the first 12 seconds of this BBC video might have point about cooling sunglasses. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Fred Oct 17 '19 at 16:09
  • $\begingroup$ I mean they're on white tarmac, which similarly to snow would be very bright $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Oct 20 '19 at 20:33
3
$\begingroup$

The Sokol suit is designed to be worn inside the Soyuz capsule. The suit is made from two layers only, the inner layer of a rubberized fabric and the outer layer made from Nylon are not suitable to keep the cosmonaut warm after landing outside the capsule.

In case of an emergency decompression of the Soyuz capsule the cosmonauts would overheat in the vacuum within about 2 hours. Integration of additional thermal insulation layers to the suit was therefore not possible.

To recover from the reentry to Earth's gravity, the cosmonauts remain in their couches for some time. The heat production of their bodies at rest is small, they made need a blanket to keep warm. The crew is active and their bodies produce much more heat. So the crew don't need warm coats.

After a longer stay in zero gravity the body of a cosmonaut contains too few blood volume for a return to Earth's gravity. To be prepared for the case of a medical emergency caused by to few blood volume the cosmonaut is kept warm.

But another aspect is the russian belief in tradition. A lot of activities before launch of cosmonauts in a Soyuz is done the same way as done by Gagarin.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

Shuttle astronauts often wore sunglasses after exiting the Orbiter / post-landing convoy vehicles.

enter image description here

Image Source NASA

enter image description here

Image Source NASA

Don't overthink this. They wore sunglasses because the light was bright, and used blankets because they were cold.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your answer. If I were able to accept more than one answer, I would have accepted yours too. $\endgroup$ – Guru Vishnu Oct 22 '19 at 8:45
2
$\begingroup$

This is done to make the astronauts more comfortable, of course.

Sunglasses: the astronauts haven't been outside for weeks/months, and with the clear sky it looks to be quite bright out there. And it looks like they're facing the Sun. I'd want to wear sunglasses in those circumstances.

Blankets: they've landed in Kazakhstan, in a region that can get bloody cold.

For comparison, this is a Shuttle landing:

enter image description here

The astronauts would go down the stairs and straight into the van. A quick search didn't turn up photos of the astronauts coming down the ladder, so no evidence of presence/absence of sunglasses.

Astronaut group photos taken after landing are done later, and posed for PR purposes, which I suspect includes asking people to take of their sunglasses.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, It must be Baikonur, Kazakhstan. $\endgroup$ – Guru Vishnu Oct 16 '19 at 3:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh, But I don't understand why they need a blanket in addition to a spacesuit. Already, the spacesuit has a threshold thermal protection system due to its bulkiness. Could you please explain this. Further, if it was so cold there, some crew other than the astronauts wear normal shirts and pants and not sweaters. $\endgroup$ – Guru Vishnu Oct 16 '19 at 6:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Intellex I think that is an excellent question! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 16 '19 at 7:42
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Intellex The spacesuit worn by the cosmonauts is not an EVA suit, it is only to be worn inside the Soyuz capsule. The cosmonauts should not overheat in their suits within the capsule, therefore the thermal insulation of the suit is designed for the use in the capsule and not for outdoors after landing. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Oct 17 '19 at 9:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Indoor/office lighting is nowhere near as bright as daylight. Lighting aboard a space vehicle isn't likely to be brighter than office lighting, if even that. There aren't a lot of windows on spacecraft. In orbit, the brightest natural light source (the Sun) needs to be filtered/shaded because it's too bright and too much like a point source; after that you have Earthshine (in 45 minute bursts) and then moonlight - thus not a lot of useful natural light. Therefore no exposure for days/weeks/months to anything close to daylight as we are familiar with it, so sunglasses. $\endgroup$ – Anthony X Oct 20 '19 at 19:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.