Exploring Extreme Places

I lived inside a 600 square-foot space ship mock-up for 45 days with three strangers to simulate a mission to Mars’ moon Phobos. This is known as an analog mission–we didn’t really go into space and we had normal earth gravity the whole time, but we simulated other aspects of spaceflight. Most of our time was spent performing science experiments, doing flight simulations, and doing maintenance on our habitat. We also had lots of free time to hang out and watch movies because the journey to Mars will be long and, in some ways, tedious.

Researchers use HERA missions to gather data about how teams work together in close quarters for long periods. What researchers learned from this mission will help NASA prepare for Artemis missions to the Moon and, eventually, to Mars.

At first, polar marine science and being an astronaut might not seem that related. But, exploring the unknown, whether at the North Pole or in (simulated) outer space, motivates and inspires me. I am grateful that being a scientist allows me to channel my passion for exploration into something that helps others. Understanding how the Arctic Ocean functions will help scientists better predicts how climate change will impact the whole world. And understanding what makes a team function well in deep space will help NASA improve spaceflight conditions for real astronauts.