Interview: Camilla, Nasa's Rubber Chicken In Space For Nasa Solar Dynamics Observatory

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A rubber chicken has followed in the footsteps of the world's leading astronauts and flown into space for Nasa.

She's not just any chicken, this bird goes by the official title of Commander Camilla Corona SDO, U.S. Astrochick.

Camilla took some time out of her hair-raising adventure to chat with The Huffington Post about her new role, and the reason behind her decision to take on such an obscure career for a rubber chicken.

"Today's kids are the leaders of tomorrow - and I want to show them how much fun science and engineering really is. Even though I am the Nasa Solar Dynamics Observatory's mission mascot and I educate about the sun and space weather, science, technology, engineering and mathematics have become a very important part of my outreach activities. And it is great to see more and more girls getting into these fields," she told The Huffington Post.

Camilla was initially part of the SDO team, and says she feels nostalgic for her days on the SDO programme. "I miss my friend the SDO satellite. SDO is in geosync orbit above New Mexico and is observing the sun 24/7 in very high definition (10x better than HD TV).

Fortunately for her, she will be visiting the craft soon, and is undergoing training to do so. "In order to go and visit SDO in space, I also have to train for spaceflight. In fact, I was just in Star City Russia to train with Nasa Astronaut Reis Wideman and German ESA Astronaut Alexander Gerst. They will be flying to the International Space Station on Expedition 40/41 and you never know who else will be flying with them... in Star City I learned about the Soyuz capsule."

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Camilla's career with Nasa has taken her not just into space, but around the world: "On my way back I stopped in Finland and visited the Finish Science Museum and then I spent two days in London. See, I was very curious about this Doctor Who. Everybody was talking about him and so I wanted to find him. Little did I know there were so many Doctor Whos."

Last week Camilla was celebrating the Discovery shuttle's arrival in Washington DC, where she will spend the next few days at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre, home to SDO. She will then return to Stanford University to work with part of the SDO team.

A recent flight took Camilla right into the eye of a solar storm. On 10 March, 2012, she took off right after several strong solar flares were spotted between 7 March 7 and 10 March.

"I flew into one of the strongest proton storms in years. The source of the radiation was sunspot AR1429, which unleashed more than 50 solar flares during the first two weeks of March. At the peak of the storm charged particles hitting Earth's upper atmosphere deposited enough heat in only three days to power every residence in New York City for two years. It was pretty intesen. Earth-orbiting satellites reported proton counts ~30,000 times normal," she said.

Camilla was keen to point out that her career, whilst unusual for a rubber bird was very much a reality for the children of today.

See Camilla preparing for take-off and in flight in the slideshow below.

Also on The Huffington Post

Camilla the Nasa SDO mascot in space
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