January 25, 2020

Martian deserts on Earth – Part II

Story also available in Spanish. One summer day in 2018 I spotted a small article in the local newspaper as I sat at my desk at work having lunch; the Austrian Space Forum was auditioning for a new class of analog astronauts. It sounded like an amazing opportunity so I immediately checked out the website. Over the next few days I feverishly prepared and sent in my application. That I might be an analog astronaut one day would not have occurred to me even two years ago. My career path has been a very winding one with a sole constant, the joy of learning. As a child books were my best…

December 16, 2019

Martian deserts on Earth – Part I

Story also available in Spanish. As the visor closes, the head-up display of my spacesuit lights up while initializing. I’m hit anew by the realization that from now on, I’m completely dependent on my skills, the technology of my suit and the support of my team if I’m to survive the next few hours unscathed. I’m thinking ahead to the days to come… After exiting our habitat, we take a look around the isolated, barren desert surrounding the small structure while Operations in the base check our suits’ telemetry. With the equipment wheeled by two vehicles, we carefully pick our way through the valley leading from the base to the area…

February 27, 2019

Catching Up With a Girl Left Behind

Sputnik launched just as I started elementary school; the first astronauts landed on the moon soon after I finished high school. I watched the story of our first space age unfold on our old black-and-white Philco TV as CBS news anchorman Walter Cronkite deftly narrated events that held me enraptured. What kid growing up during this heady time wouldn’t want to be an astronaut? Sadly, girls of my era were not allowed, encouraged or academically prepared to pursue careers in science and tech. “You don’t have the right temperament,” my high school guidance counselor admonished me when I told him I wanted to take advanced trigonometry. He signed me up…