The Mars Generation
As Opportunity and Curiosity rove around on Mars, they are gathering data that has led to numerous discoveries and a greater understanding of the red planet. An understanding that will be vital in the 2030’s when NASA aims to send the first astronauts to Mars.
Inspired by pioneers like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, many young women are hoping to be chosen for that mission. Three of those hopefuls are Alyssa Carson, Abby Harrison, and Taylor Richardson.
Alyssa Carson is fifteen, and has dreamed of traveling to the Mars since she was three. But she hasn’t spent those twelve years just dreaming. She’s the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy, the first to complete all of NASA’s space camps, and she already has her SCUBA certification and rocket license. She is focused on building an impressive resume for her astronaut application, knowing that the Mars mission selection will be very competitive.
Abby Harrison was five when she decided to become an astronaut, and has said she’s always been an explorer at heart. The 18 year old has been mentored by Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano since they met at the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavor. She served as his “Earth Liaison” during his mission to the ISS in 2013, using social media to bring news and stories from his mission to young people. Since then she has continued that work, helping to create The Mars Generation, a group working to excite young people and adults about human space exploration. She is currently a student at Wellesley College, planning to study microbiology and physics.
Taylor Richardson is only twelve, but she has already on a path she started in third grade, when she read Find Where the Wind Goes by Dr. Mae Jemison. Richardson was one of the youngest kids to be accepted to Space Camp. She started the Take Flight With a Book program, a book drive that partners with the United Way, because she feels “every kid deserves a book.” She is currently a Mars Generation student space ambassador, and in 2016 she was invited to attend the United State of Women summit at the White House.
The first humans who will travel to Mars will be facing an extraordinary challenge, which comes with extraordinary risks. But these young women are ready to face them, and ready to inspire many generations to come.
Written by Mary Ratliff