Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Do you want to be an astronaut?

I'm really interested in what the Mars Phoenix lander is doing. You probably heard that it recently discovered water ice, a huge finding that lends a lot of credence to the theory that Mars used to be much more like the earth - warmer, wetter, greener - and potentially habitable for life. The news about ice was first announced on Twitter. The lander has its own account, and the posts are written from the perspective of a robot on another planet. It's fantastic.

Today Phoenix posted a link to a job announcement on NASA's website. The job? Astronaut, class of '09. Here's the announcement:

RELEASE : 08-158

Deadline Approaching to Apply for New NASA Astronaut Class

HOUSTON -- NASA's deadline for accepting applications for the 2009 Astronaut Candidate Class is July 1. Those selected could fly to space for long-duration stays on the International Space Station and missions to the moon.

To be considered, a bachelor's degree in engineering, science or math and three years of relevant professional experience are required. Typically, successful applicants have significant qualifications in engineering or science, or extensive experience flying high-performance jet aircraft.

Teaching experience, including work at the kindergarten through 12th grade level, is considered qualifying. Educators with the appropriate educational background are encouraged to apply.

After a six-month period of evaluation and interviews, NASA will announce final selections in early 2009. Astronaut candidates will report to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston during the summer of 2009 to begin the basic training program to prepare them for future spaceflight assignments.

To apply to be an astronaut, visit:

Really? According to this, I will be a legitimate applicant for the position of astronaut in a couple years. Bachelor's degree, significant experience in science, teaching experience, yeah, that's me. If I can somehow commandeer a jet and learn to fly it, I am totally in. Seriously though, do real astronauts, those people that actually go to space, apply for their jobs this way? The image of some rocket scientist/top gun sitting at his or her laptop, filling out an online application to enter the space program is so hilarious to me.

There's more information at the NASA Astronaut Recruitment site. With a job like this, some travel is involved, they say, including "Texas, Florida, California, Russia, Kazakhstan, the International Space Station and the moon." HAHA

You know, it couldn't hurt to apply. I'm still not sure what to I want to do after getting a Ph.D, and it's probably smart to keep my options open, stay open minded. If you're interested, time is running out to get into this year's class. Deadline is July 1st.

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