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Category: space
  • Dr. Andrea Ghez became the fourth woman in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy.

    Dr. Andrea Ghez was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics this week for her discovery of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy! The astrophysicist, who is the Lauren B. Leichtman and Arthur E. Levine Professor of Astrophysics at UCLA, shares half of the prize with Reinhard Genzel of UC Berkeley; the other half recognizes Roger Penrose, a professor at the University of Oxford who proved that black holes must be a physical reality. Ghez was delighted to receive the award, particularly because she is only the fourth woman in history to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics. "I'm thrilled to receive the prize and I take very seriously the responsibility associated with being... the fourth woman to win," Ghez said after the announcement. "[And] I think today I feel more passionate about the teaching side of my job than I have ever. Because it's so important to convince the younger generation that their ability to question, and their ability to think, is just crucial to the future of the world." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Mary Golda Ross spent over 30 years at Lockheed, much of it as a member of the top-secret Skunk Works program involved in cutting edge research during the early years of the space race.

    When Mary Golda Ross, the first Native American aerospace engineer, began her career at the aerospace company Lockheed during World War II, women engineers were rare and most companies expected them to leave after the war was over to make room for returning men. Ross was such a phenomenal talent, however, that she not only stayed at Lockheed for over 30 years years, she became an integral member of the top-secret Skunk Works program involved in cutting edge research during the early years of the space race. As one of 40 engineers in Lockheed's Advanced Development Projects division, Ross was the only female engineer on the team and the only Native American. Her research was so secret that, even in 1994, she had to be coy with an interviewer about her work: "I was the pencil pusher, doing a lot of research," she said. "My state of the art tools were a slide rule and a Friden computer." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Maria Mitchell became famous worldwide after becoming the first American to discover a comet.

    Maria Mitchell (second from left) and her students at the Vassar College Observatory measuring the Sun’s rotation from the movement of sunspots.

    At the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the world's first women's rights convention, illustrious suffragists and feminists like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton took time to honor a groundbreaking scientist: Maria Mitchell, who had just become the first American and third woman in history to discover a comet! Mitchell would go on to become America's first professional female astronomer, and she used her newfound fame to advocate for scientific education for girls and women. "Does anyone suppose that any woman in all the ages has had a fair chance to show what she could do in science?" she asked. "Until able women have given their lives to investigation, it is idle to discuss the question of their capacity for original work." Or, as she wrote more pointedly in one of her journals, "better to be peering in the spectrograph than on the pattern of a dress." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Among hundreds of men, trailblazing NASA Engineer JoAnn Morgan was the sole woman present in the locked control room.

    A famous photo shows the control room at Kennedy Space Center on the day of the historic Apollo 11 launch packed with hundreds of men in white shirts and skinny black ties — and, among them, a single woman sits at a console. As Apollo 11 began its flight to the moon on July 16, 1969, 28-year-old instrumentation controller JoAnn Hardin Morgan became the first woman ever permitted in the launch firing room, which is locked down in advance of a space flight. Morgan, who was the first female engineer at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, would go on to have a 40-year-long career at NASA. While she encountered challenges along the way, including being "the only woman there for a long time" and spending the first 15 years working "in a building were there wasn't a ladies rest room," Morgan says that "I had such a passion that overrode anything else, the lonely moments, the little bits of negative. They were like a mosquito bite. You just swat it and push on." Continue reading Continue reading

  • As head of NASA's human spaceflight program, Kathy Lueders will oversee the Artemis program which plans to land a woman on the moon in 2024.

    Kathy Lueders, the NASA official who oversaw the historic SpaceX astronaut launch last month, has been named the new head of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate! In this role, Lueders will lead all of NASA's human spaceflight programs, including the Artemis moon program which plans to land the first woman on the moon in 2024. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine praised her appointment in a statement, observing: "Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis... and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given." Continue reading Continue reading

  • NASA astronaut Christina Koch spent 328 days in space, the longest spaceflight ever by a woman.

    NASA astronaut Christina Koch returned safety to Earth today after 328 days in space, setting a new record for the longest spaceflight by a woman! Koch's original flight was supposed to be only 6 months long, but NASA extended her stay on the International Space Station (ISS) – in part to collect more data about how human bodies function after long periods in space. "It is a wonderful thing for science," Koch said in an interview in December from the ISS. "We see another aspect of how the human body is affected by microgravity for the long term. That is really important for our future spaceflight plans, going forward to the moon and Mars.... Having the opportunity to be up here for so long is truly an honor." Continue reading Continue reading

  • The newly minted astronauts are the first class from NASA's Artemis program which planning missions to the Moon and, ultimately, missions to Mars.

    When NASA's newest astronaut class graduated this week, it included five mighty women! The new astronauts have spent two years in intensive training in a wide variety of skills, including spacewalking, robotics, International Space Station (ISS) systems, T-38 jet proficiency, and the Russian language. "As astronauts, they’ll help develop spacecraft [and] support the teams currently in space," NASA wrote in a graduation announcement, "and ultimately join the ranks of only about 500 people who have had the honor of going into space." Continue reading Continue reading

  • During their historic spacewalk, NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir replaced a power controller on the International Space Station.

    NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history today when they conducted the first all-female spacewalk in more than five decades of spacewalking! The two ventured outside of the International Space Station at 7:50 this morning for a 7-hour mission to replace a failed power controller. Of the 227 people who have participated in spacewalks since the first one took place in 1965, only 14 have been women. Prior to their spacewalk, Meir spoke of its historic significance and the long fight for women to have equal access and opportunity to participate in the space program: "What we’re doing now shows all of the work that went in for the decades prior, all of the women that worked to get us where we are today." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of space-themed toys and books for all ages!

    With this week's 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing, many Mighty Girls are dreaming about the stars! From mapping the skies as pioneers of astronomical science to walking in space on shuttle missions, women have made countless contributions to humanity's exploration of space. To encourage kids' interest in space, and introduce them to these trailblazers, in the first part of this blog post, we've featured a variety of books for children, teens, and adults about ground-breaking women of space exploration. In the second part, we've showcased our favorite space-oriented science kits so kids can learn more about space and pretend play toys so they can imagine themselves flying into outer space. After all, the sky is no limit to the dreams of Mighty Girls! Continue reading Continue reading

  • From an aerospace engineer to a helicopter pilot to a microbiologist, these five remarkable women will help lead the way in space exploration!

    When NASA announced its newest class of astronaut candidates, it included five inspiring women! NASA received a record-breaking number of applicants for this astronaut class — over 18,000 in all — and the class itself has twelve members, their largest since the year 2000. "These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations," said retired astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. "Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers."

    The astronaut candidates have another year of training in front of them before they're ready to break Earth's atmosphere, but in the meantime, space-loving Mighty Girls have five new role models to look up to! In this blog post, we introduce you to these five remarkably talented women. And, to inspire children who dream of their own careers in space, at the end of the post, we've showcased a variety of girl-empowering books and toys about shooting for the stars! Continue reading Continue reading

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