Victoria LaBarre was climbing out of a canyon and into a bright, vast, seemingly lifeless landscape when she started to experience an astronaut’s nightmare.
“Suddenly,” she said, “I couldn’t breathe.”
The symptoms were real — maybe from claustrophobia, or from exertion at high altitude. But LaBarre didn’t unlatch her helmet to get a breath of fresh air because, in this simulated Mars exercise in the Utah desert, she was supposed to be an astronaut. The canyon was standing in for Candor Chasma, a 5-mile-deep gash in the Red Planet’s surface. On Mars, there’s no oxygen in the air — you do not take off your helmet.
So, instead, LaBarre radioed for help from fellow members of Crew 177. The team of students and teachers from a Texas community college had applied together to live and work for a week this spring in a two-story metal cylinder at the privately run Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah.
Elijah Espinoza, a freshman assigned to be a crew engineer and geologist for the week, heard LaBarre’s call and walked her through some breathing exercises.
“I think that’s really one of the best things about Mars — the teamwork,” said LaBarre.“I don’t think you could live without it.”
Ever want to ask a real life astronaut a question? Here’s your chance!
Astronaut Jessica Meir will be taking your questions in an Answer Time session on Saturday, March 11 from 4:30-5:30pm ET/1:30-2:30pm PT here on NASA’s Tumblr. Make sure to ask your question now by visiting http://nasa.tumblr.com/ask!
Jessica Meir was selected to become an astronaut in 2013 and was part of NASA’s first astronaut class that was 50% female. She and her astronaut classmates are training to fly to space now and are involved in the future of our human exploration program. She’d like to be one of the first astronauts to set foot
on Mars and pursue technological and scientific advances.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Brown University, a Master of Science in Space Studies from the International Space University, and a Doctorate in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD). In her research, the Caribou, Maine native studied the physiology of animals in extreme environments.
NASA astronaut Jeanette J. Epps (Ph.D.) was selected as an astronaut in 2009. She has been assigned to her first spaceflight, which is scheduled to launch in May 2018. Her training included scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalk training, robotics, T‐38 flight training and wilderness survival training.
Before becoming an astronaut, Epps worked as a Technical Intelligence Officer at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Born in Syracuse, New York. Enjoys traveling, reading, running, mentoring, scuba diving and family.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Physics from LeMoyne College, as well as a Master of Science and Doctorate of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.
What would happen if the crew of the Starship Enterprise handed over the controls to our scientists and engineers? It turns out many are avid Star Trek fans with lengthy itineraries in mind.
What is perhaps the most famous Star Trek planet was placed by creator Gene Roddenberry in a real star system: 40 Eridani. This trinary system of three dwarf stars, about 16 light-years from Earth, could play host to exoplanets; none have been detected there so far. The most massive is 40 Eridani A, chosen as Vulcan’s sun.
An icy “M-class” (Star Trek’s term for “Earth-like”) moon of a much larger planet—a gas giant—that is home to soft-spoken humanoids with blue skin, white hair and stylish antennae. In our solar system, gas giants play host to icy moons, such as Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Enceladus, that possess subsurface oceans locked inside shells of ice. Our missions are searching for lifeforms that might exist in these cold, dark habitats.
Another Trek M-class planet known for its engineered tropical climate and its welcoming humanoid population. The planet is said to orbit a binary, or double, star system—in Star Trek fan lore, Epsilon Ceti, a real star system some 79 light-years from Earth. The first discovery of a planet around a binary was Kepler-16b, which is cold, gaseous and Saturn-sized.
4. “Shore Leave” planet, Omicron Delta region
This is another amusement park of a planet, where outlandish characters are manufactured in underground factories straight from the crew members’ imaginations. In real life, astronauts aboard the International Space Station print out plastic tools and containers with their own 3-D printer.
“Star Trek: Into Darkness” finds Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy fleeing from chalk-skinned aliens through a red jungle. Red or even black vegetation could exist on real planets that orbit cooler, redder stars, an adaptation meant to gather as much light for photosynthesis as possible. An example may be Kepler-186f, a planet only 10 percent larger than Earth in diameter. At high noon, the surface of this planet would look something like dusk on Earth.
6. Wolf 359
A star best known in the Star Trek universe as the site of a fierce battle in which a multitude of “Star Trek: Next Generation” ships are defeated by the Borg. But Wolf 359 is a real star, one of the closest to Earth at a distance of 7.8 light-years. Wolf 359 is also a likely observational target for the Kepler space telescope in the upcoming Campaign 14 of its “K2” mission.
7. Eminiar VII/Vendikar
These two planets are neighbors, sharing a star system. So, of course, they’ve been at war for centuries. While we have no signs of interplanetary war, multiple rocky worlds have been discovered orbiting single stars. A cool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1 is orbited by three Earth-size planets; two have a chance of being the right temperature for liquid water, with possible Earth-like atmospheres.
The planets Romulus and Remus are home to the Romulan Empire (ancient Rome, anyone?), although Remus seemed to have gotten the raw end of the deal. Remus is tidally locked, one face always turned to its star. Tidally locked worlds might well be a real thing, with many possible candidates discovered with our Kepler space telescope. The habitable portion of the surface of such planets might be confined to a band between the day and night sides called the “terminator zone”—a.k.a. the twilight zone.
9. Janus VI
A rocky world lacking an atmosphere, perhaps similar to Mars. While humans must maintain an artificial underground environment to survive, the innards of the planet are a comfortable home to an alien species known as the “Horta.” Their rock-like biochemistry is based on silicon, rather than carbon, inspiring us to imagine the many forms life might take in the universe.
In the Star Trek universe, Earth is home to Starfleet Headquarters; the real Earth is, at least so far, the only life-bearing world we know. No true Earth analogs have been discovered among the real exoplanets detected so far. But a new generation of space telescopes, designed to capture direct images of exoplanets in Earth’s size range, might one day reveal an alternative “pale blue dot.”
Learn more about exoplanets at: exoplanets.nasa.gov
Summary: Internationally celebrated crew of Patriot Three, a rag-tag group of astronauts, assimilate back into life on Earth after months in space.
Characters: Bucky Barnes, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, Chris “Thor” Odinson, Tom “Loki” Odinson, Wanda Mamixoff, Scott Lang, Clint Barton, Bruce Banner, and more.
Warnings: space related nerdery, violence, sex, drugs, drinking, cheating, lying, humor, angst, language, sadness, happiness, and more. Reader beware.
Author’s Note: Well, well, well. Here we are, sitting on the brink of the future. I (among of a bunch of you) am obsessed with space. I wanted to be an astronaut as a child but it turns out, you have to like… know stuff… to go to space so I will forever be stuck to planet Earth. So, second best, you get a series where I live out my fantasies of being apart of the NASA/Space exploration family.
Please note: This series is set in the year 2060 and it is really, really, really the definition of an “au” (alternate universe), so much so… you could call it… original content. **GASP.**
I got a lot of feedback about this series and I am super excited to see it come to life. Not only will I be posting the main story line, I will be creating other things to really bring my ‘verse to life like: interviews with the astronauts, profiles, letters, articles, etc.