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    • #724
      AvatarAriel_Ekblaw
      Moderator

      Hi space cadets! We’re looking forward to hearing how you’ve enjoyed the learning modules so far. Any questions for us? Ask away!

    • #725
      Avataraverymsnormandin
      Moderator

      Hi there, Ariel! I had a quick question: I was wondering how you came to be interested in space, and what path you took to found and lead the Space Exploration Initiative!

    • #736
      AvatarAriel_Ekblaw
      Moderator

      Hi Avery! Thanks for asking.

      I grew up reading science fiction and was always captivated by the depictions of far-off worlds and life on other planets. I majored in physics in college, and had a chance to complete an experiment in microgravity with NASA (on a “parabolic flight”)–after that, I was hooked! I came to MIT for graduate school, and ultimately settled on aerospace engineering for space structures as my PhD thesis. This led me to find ways to support aerospace research at the Media Lab (my home department), and I discovered there was a thriving grass-roots interest in space exploration among many different students–biologists, artists, architects, data scientists and more. Over a few years, we grew from a passionate group of graduate students into what we have now as the Space Exploration Initiative!

    • #737
      AvatarJoe Diaz
      Keymaster

      Hi Ariel! Some people question why it is important to develop new tools and technologies for space when there are many problems on Earth that need to be fixed. What do you think about this?

      • #746
        AvatarAriel_Ekblaw
        Moderator

        Hi Joe, this is a great question, and one we care deeply about.

        First, we have a guiding principle at the Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) that our work also come back down to benefit life on Earth, in the long tradition of NASA spinoff technologies. There are wonderful examples of technologies that were originally developed for life in space (kevlar, certain water filtration technologies, etc) that have found life-saving application areas on Earth. We take an early stage approach to this, and try to design our projects to have applicability in both domains (earth and space) from the start, whenever we can.

        Exploring space also helps give us critically important, and emotionally powerful, insights into life on Earth. It’s thanks to Space Exploration that we learned about the greenhouse gas effect on Venus and how important it is to mitigate climate change on Earth. Photos of the earth taken from space in the 1960s and 1970s even helped kick-start the environmental movement!

    • #740
      Avatarmsarang
      Moderator

      Hi Ariel! I was wondering what kinds of things I should study if I want to work in the space industry some day?

      • #747
        AvatarAriel_Ekblaw
        Moderator

        Hi Mehak! Thanks for the question.

        While many people think that you have to be an engineer or scientist, and study primarily “STEM” topics to be involved in the space industry, that’s only part of the puzzle these days! Yes, technical knowledge is quite helpful for a career building rockets, spacecraft, and deep space probes, and if you’re interested in those areas, exploring STEM fields is key. I do, myself, have a physics and technical background–knowledge that I cherish and use in many ways for the Space Exploration Initiative. But these days, we also need space lawyers, space designers, space doctors, space chefs and more–the people who will help us flesh out the diversity of human life in space. This means that many people, with many different interests, can bring their talents to the space domain! So, study what you’re passionate about, or if you’re still finding that passion, what you’re curious about!

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