Jessica Meir, in her early 40s, seemed completely common in Thursday’s chat with college students. However her look belies an astonishing lifetime of accomplishment: she teaches at Harvard Medical College, performs three devices, pilots jets, scuba-dives and is researching what it would take to get a manned mission to Mars.

PROVIDENCE — For Brown College alumna Jessica Meir, house actually is the ultimate frontier.

This from a lady who has gone scuba diving in Antarctica, spent days squeezing by means of a maze of caves in Sardinia and flew NASA’s reduced-gravity plane, the aptly named “Vomit Comet.”

As an astronaut aboard the Worldwide Area Station, she joined crewmate Christina Koch within the first all-female spacewalk.

However when she was requested what it takes to spend six months 250 miles above the Earth’s floor, Meir didn’t exhibit the everyday Hollywood braggadocio.

“It doesn’t matter should you had been a hotshot pilot,” she instructed 300 Brown college students and school at Solomon Corridor, which staged a stay video feed from the house station Thursday. “It’s about being the form of particular person you’d wish to tackle a tenting journey. It’s about management and fellowship. You’re continuously shifting roles.”

Meir, who grew up in Caribou, Maine, knew she wished to be an astronaut since she was 5, and nothing has held her again.

In 2008, the primary time NASA rejected her software to change into an astronaut, she remembers considering, “Effectively, I received’t put myself by means of that once more.”

5 years later, she took one other shot. This time, the reply was sure.

“I knew if I didn’t apply, I’d at all times surprise.”

Meir was one in every of eight folks plucked from a area of greater than 6,000 candidates to fly as the present crew of the house station.

Her curly brown hair drifting above her like Marge Simpson’s blue tresses, Meir, in her early 40s, appears to be like completely common. She by no means stops smiling and treats each query with respect.

However her look belies an astonishing lifetime of accomplishment: she teaches at Harvard Medical College, performs three devices, together with the piccolo, pilots jets, scuba dives and is researching what it would take to get a manned mission to Mars.

She has additionally raised six goslings, a part of a research on a goose that thrives in Antarctica’s skinny air.

“I really like excessive environments,” she mentioned.

Area is her favourite laboratory, the place her days are consumed by lots of of experiments in biology, biotechnology, and bodily science.

The magic of “sitting in a tin can, far above the Earth,” has by no means worn off.

Throughout her first spin across the planet, Meir recalled the ambiance’s altering gradient — deep blue the place it’s dense, fading because it will get thinner.

At evening, the ambiance glows a bruised orange, the lights of the Earth’s nice cities twinkling beneath.

“While you look again on the Earth, it brings up two issues,” she mentioned. “How everybody and all the pieces you recognize is down there on this stunning blue ball. And the way insignificant we’re as people.”

The downlink from the house station is a part of Brown’s 50th-anniversary celebration of its “open curriculum,” which abolished required entry-level programs in favor of scholars’ pursuing their passions.

Meir, a biology main at Brown, mentioned the curriculum, thought of radical at its introduction within the early 1970s, gave her the liberty to change into a “house geek,” becoming a member of the Brown Area Membership and enrolling in a space-training program at NASA.

In first grade, Meir was requested to attract what she wished to be when she grew up. She drew an image of herself standing on the moon.

In 1999, at her Brown commencement, Meir’s father held up an indication that mentioned “Congratulations, Area Lady!”

Now there may be speak of a manned mission to Mars. She could also be on it.

lborg@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7823

On Twitter: @lborgprojocom




Supply hyperlink