Jessica Watkins, the astronaut candidate to go to the Moon as well as to Mars

If you could decide, what would you prefer? an actGo to the moon or Mars? This question, which is only theoretical for most people, takes on another meaning Jessica WatkinsNASA astronaut.

“Whichever comes first!” He answered with a laugh to AFP, during an exclusive interview in Zero Gravity from International Space Station (ISS).

At 34, she has a full career ahead of her and could be one of the first women to step in the moon in the next years. Missions to Mars seem a long way off, but since astronauts often work in their fifties, Watkins may still have a chance.

Faced with this hypothetical choice, she refuses to speak publicly and asserts that she will be “extremely pleased” that her fate “is Moon or Mars“.

Meanwhile, her first spaceflight made history: she was the first black woman to do a long-term mission to the International Space Station, where she has already spent more than three months and will continue for another three.

The Apollo missions brought only white men to the moon. NASA seeks to change that picture little by little with not only the landing of the first woman, but also the first black person.

“It will be an important step for the agency, for the country and even for the world,” he stressed. Watkins. “Acting is important. It’s hard to become what you don’t see.”

“I am so grateful to those who came before me, and the women and black astronauts who paved the way for me to be here today,” she added. “That was important to me.”

geologist’s soul

Watkins He was born in Gaithersburg, on the outskirts of WashingtonHe grew up in Colorado and studied geology in California. As part of a postdoctoral fellowship, he worked for NASA on the Curiosity rover mission, which had just completed 10 years in the Mars.

This is how the planet entered his heart. The American has already published a scientific study on Mars While in orbit, on the International Space Station.

“Geologist, scientist, astronaut”: the order in which they are described.

Remember the moment you fell in love with Planetary geologyIt is a science that studies the formation and formation of stars.

One of his first geological chapters, was about planetary accretion, that is, when solid bodies fuse together to form larger and, eventually, planets.

There, “I realized this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and what I wanted to study,” he says.

This is why he considers the “enormous” fact of “being part of an effort that truly seeks to do work on another planetary body.”

successor ApolloThe Artemis Program seeks to progressively establish a permanent human presence in the world the moonwhich can be used as a base for travel to Mars. The first unmanned mission is scheduled to depart at the end of the month in the direction of the moon.

Jessica Watkins It is part of 18 astronauts assigned to Artemis.

Officially, all “active” astronauts (there are currently 42) have an equal opportunity to choose from travel to the moon.

“he crossed his boundaries”

Although NASA may prefer a more experienced astronaut for its first manned mission, the scientific profile of Watkins It should work for you in the future.

For astronauts, having a good personality and team spirit is also crucial, as crew members spend a lot of time confined to small spaces. Watkins He says his relatives say he “goes easy”, and that he learned the value of teamwork by playing rugby.

He answers, “All of us have this sense of exploration and the desire to keep pushing the boundaries of what humans can do. I think it’s something that unites us.”

From a young age, he dreamed of space travel and always kept that hope in his head, without thinking that it might “really happen” one day.

“Don’t be afraid to dream big,” he says. “You never know when your dreams will come true.”

France Press agency

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