Future Technology

Alyssa Carson: Mars Mission Candidate and IAA MOBILITY Keynote Speaker

Ever since she was a child, Alyssa Carson has had one big dream in life: to be the first person to set foot on Mars and to be part of the first NASA mission to Mars, planned for 2033. At the IAA MOBILITY in Munich in September, the 22-year-old will be held a keynote about this vision. A portrait.

Alyssa Carson has dreamed of a Mars mission since childhood

"I've had the dream of going to Mars since I was a kid," says Alyssa Carson when we catch up with her in sunny Florida in early June. "An episode of the cartoon series 'The Backyardigans' that I loved at the time was about a Mars mission, and it immediately captivated me. As a kid, I had the poster from that episode hanging in my bedroom, and from then on I asked my parents countless questions about space. My parents couldn't really answer any of my questions. The more Alyssa Carson learned about the fascinating mysteries of space, the more she wanted to be a part of the space industry. "When I was seven years old, I went to a NASA Space Camp for the first time and immediately had this AHA experience I needed. This is what I want to do!"

NASA Space Camp - From simulating a moon landing to building a model rocket

With more than 700,000 alumni, NASA Space Camp is based on NASA's astronaut training program and focuses on conducting simulations of spaceflight scenarios with children and teens from around the world, including participating in a moon landing simulation, as well as teaching science topics and technologies that future astronauts will need for their basic training. "At Space Camp, I learned all about space, NASA's history and about NASA plans for the future. We simulated moon landings and built model rockets - I was fascinated," said Carson.

NASA Space Camps help Carlson figure out which subjects she is most passionate about. NASA Space Camps expose her to a wide variety of careers, because it takes more than a passion for the infinite worlds to succeed in a space mission. Pilots, scientists, and engineers work day in and day out to help Carson get one step closer to her dream of a Mars mission. "NASA Space Camps made me realize what I wanted to do for a living," says Carson.

A passion for spaceflight

As a teenager, she recalls, the biggest challenge was balancing her passion for spaceflight with her schoolwork. "I started doing scientific research when I was 15. I regularly participated in space-related research projects." She says it has always been important for her to choose a career that she is truly passionate about. "Being an astronaut is a passion for me, not just a job like any other."

To make it through the rigorous selection process for the Mars mission, Carson is working hard every day for her dream. After all, a trip to Mars could take months, with many more challenges along the way. "Currently, scientists are not only working on how to shorten the space mission, but there is also intense research on food supply on Mars to survive for a longer period of time on this planet. There is also the question of how the Mars mission will affect the human body, i.e. what a long stay on Mars will do to muscles and bones. "From projects like artificial gravity on Mars to plasma propulsion, there are still some technological ideas in the pipeline that need to be explored.

The Mars mission, if Carson has his way, will not be the last trip to a distant planet in the solar system. "I definitely think we will explore other planets after Mars." Her vision, she said, is to make space missions more accessible to everyone. The idea of space tourism is a first step in that direction, she said. Eventually, everyone should have the opportunity to travel to space. "With a Mars mission, we could help make that happen," Carson said.

Alyssa Carson as keynote speaker at IAA MOBILITY

When Carson comes to IAA MOBILITY in Munich in September, she plans to share this vision during a keynote speech at the IAA Summit. The most important thing, Carson said, is to explain to people out there what it means to send humans to the moon and Mars. "So I'm not just going to talk about the future of space and the technologies that can make a Mars mission possible. It is much more important to identify the opportunities that the technologies that we can gain from spaceflight offer us. All of these technologies that we use every day, whether it's our cell phones or Google Maps - all of these things are connected in real time to satellites orbiting the Earth. We often forget how intimately connected we already are to the vast worlds out there, and how many of the technologies we use in our everyday lives today were originally developed for space travel."

But for Carson, the trip to IAA MOBILITY also seems like a good opportunity to discover new technologies that might be used in space travel in the future. The mobility sector definitely has an important role to play, Carson believes. "I am excited to see how new technologies will be applied and used in different ways in different areas of mobility. Just as technologies once invented for space can be used for Earth, we can use technologies originally developed for Earth to solve problems in space.

Research and Ph.D.

Until then, Carson, who recently graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a degree in astrobiology and plans to begin a Ph.D. program in the fall, will continue to research her current favorite area of study: searching for possible signs of life on Mars and other planets. As an astrobiologist, Carson focuses primarily on different strains of bacteria: "I want to explore what species could possibly live on other planets and under these extreme conditions. like they do on Mars," Carson said.

Further articles