Women On A Run To Conquer Mars

Women On A Run To Conquer Mars

The Red planet is supposed to be the next big thing in space exploration breakthrough.  China National Space Administration (CNSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Russian Federal Space Agency (RFSA or Roscosmos) all have some kind of Mars missions in the pipeline.

Keeping this in mind, a team of scientists began an analog astronaut mission on the slopes of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, the world’s largest volcano. An analog mission actively simulates the terrain, features and composition of the moon or Mars and looks for the closest match on Earth. Everything mimics the actual mission except for the takeoff and landing which also are simulated in a mock module. The data collected by such an exercise is considered invaluable for the kind of input and solution it generates. All of it helps in solving problems that might occur in space, but also feature on Earth.

The first mission of the sensoria Project, Sensoria 1 took place at HI-SEAS (the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation), and an analog Mars habitat for human researchers from January 4 to January 18, 2020, was unique in several aspects. Firstly it was completely financed by venture capital and was also comprised of an all-woman crew.

The vision of the Sensoria missions was to put “women at the forefront of space exploration, which has historically not been the case.” It was supposed to be a sisterhood of women working in the space sector, professionally as well as personally. While the future Sensoria missions will have male members, the onus will always be on women.

To quote J.J. Hastings, a bioengineer and the commander of this inaugural Sensoria mission, “All of our missions will be female-led and female-majority. We, of course, will welcome with open arms our male colleagues, but we believe that women need to be placed at the center of our shared vision for space exploration, that women need to be given a platform for professional development, opportunities for research and training,” 

Featured image: SENSORIA Program

By Priyanka Modi

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