Best space day ever

As many of you know, I had the special privilege of working as a science educator at the Victorian Space Science Centre (VSSEC), Strathmore, Victoria. VSSEC’s flagship program for young teenagers, loosely based on the Space Camp program, Alabama (watch this for a run down), is the Mission to Mars. This program is a simulation of humankind’s soon-to-be first landing on our closest neighbouring planet.

This fully-interactive Mission to Mars program sends half the student group to mission control, while the other half are landed on Mars as a team of scientist and engineer astronauts. The astronauts conduct experiments, monitor weather readings and collect samples on a simulated Martian surface, while their mission controllers direct them in their endeavours, problem solving and negotiating the astronauts through technical malfunctions and martian dangers to bring their people safely home.

We had the unique pleasure last week of running a Mission to Mars for The Australasian Society of Aerospace Medicine (ASAM). These visitors were somewhat different to the 13 through 15 year-old astronauts we usually unleash on the red planet. These ASAM visitors were a collective of highly skilled pilots, engineers, psychologists, biomedical scientists and educators.

The whole day was a huge buzz; alive with exciting discussions about humans in space, the potential of life on Mars, and what our motivations for exploring that planet should be.

Among these discussions and meetings, however, there was a particular stand out for me. I got to chat with Mars One candidate Dianne McGrath.

Her eyes are firmly fixed on getting into space, but not for the reasons you might expect. You see, Dianne McGrath is motivated by her insight into our urgent need to extend our sustainable practices. As she explained to me, Mars One provides an opportunity to model the behaviour she wants to see us humans adopt here on Earth. Completely sustainable use of water, energy, food and waste. There is simply no other choice in the Martian habitat.

It might not be the reason most of us would like to go to Mars, but it sure seems like a good one.

For real time insights into student-led space and Mars programs, follow @VSSEC@SpaceCampUSA and @TheMarsGen on Twitter, or check out their websites (in-text) for program information.

Mission to Mars photos courtesy of Marc Jurblum @mars_psych, used with permission. 

A huge thanks to Rabbot Hutch, the inquisitive man behind the camera, genuinely amazing artist, dog owner and housemate extraordinaire. Follow him @rabbothutch on insta.

Follow pug Thor @Thormypug on insta.

Best space day ever goes out to Nicole Morton, the most aspiring and inspiring woman I am lucky enough to call my friend.

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