Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi shows off grandmother's earrings in space

First female Saudi astronaut arrived on the International Space Station on May 22

Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi shows off her grandmother's earrings onboard the ISS. Photo: Rayyanah Barnawi Twitter
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Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi has posted an image of herself wearing her grandmother's earrings in space.

The research scientist, 33, arrived on the International Space Station, along with fellow Saudi astronaut Ali Al Qarni, on May 22 for an eight-day stay. They are to return to Earth on May 30.

Ms Barnawi has become the first Arab woman to go on a space mission and the kingdom's first woman in space.

"Grandma, I flew your earrings to space," Ms Barnawi tweeted on Thursday, along with an image of her wearing the golden studs.

She took the image while working a science experiment aboard the ISS.

Ms Barnawi has previously described her grandmother as a role model and the astronaut said she was glad to have her support.

"When I first told my grandmother that I was going to space, she gave me her 16-year-old earrings," Ms Barnawi said at a press conference on May 16, days before launching to space.

Mr Al Qarni, 31, a fighter pilot, also shared the first images of himself in space on Thursday.

He is seen posing in front of the cupola, a panoramic observatory on the station that astronauts use to view and photograph the Earth, as well as monitor incoming spacecraft.

"A day on the International Space Station. How's your day on Earth going?" he tweeted.

Both astronauts have started working on the 14 experiments assigned to them by Saudi researchers.

They performed a test run of the NanoRacks Space Kite experiment, which will help to show the aerodynamic behaviour of kites in microgravity.

Three kites of different shapes will be fixed to a fan on the ISS and their movement will be tracked.

The Saudi crew will host a live event with thousands of pupils in the kingdom, as part of the Saudi education outreach programme, to show the results.

Ms Barnawi and Mr Al Qarni also spent Wednesday speaking to pupils through the radio on the ISS.

Ms Barnawi will also carry out experiments to study cancer stem cells.

She has nearly a decade of experience in cancer stem-cell research and will be using her expertise on the station.

Ms Barnawi will also take part in a study called Modelling Tumour Organoids that could aid stem-cell models that help to predict and prevent cancer.

The research involves monitoring breast cancer cells to study immune dysfunction and drug challenges.

It is hoped the experiment will help to improve the detection of cancer and therapies for the disease and other illnesses.

Saudi astronauts arrive on the International Space Station - in pictures

Updated: May 25, 2023, 1:01 PM