Did you ever look up at the night sky in complete awe of the stars, the moon, the milky way? Did you ever dream of exploring space or visiting planets such as Mars? The latter may actually be a dream that comes true for Louisiana’s 17-year-old Alyssa Carson – and she’s even been recognized by NASA.
Alyssa’s dream to go on a mission to Mars stemmed from a conversation she had with her father, Bert, at the age of three. He “explained to her that people her age would probably go to Mars and… thought that was the end of [their] discussion.” A week later, his daughter had resolved to become an astronaut but, more specifically, an astronaut who will go to Mars.
But her desire really took root after watching an episode of The Backyardigans, an animated musical television series that aired between 2004 and 2010, where the characters went on a Mars mission. After that, she continued learning all she could about the red planet.
“I started watching videos of rovers landing on Mars,” said Alyssa. “I had a gigantic map of Mars in my room I would look at. We started getting telescopes so we could look at space.”
But her interest hasn’t stopped there! In fact, her parents have been extremely supportive of her endeavors. So much so that she has attended the United States Space camp 18 times since 2008. Alyssa has also visited all 14 NASA visitor centers, making her the first person to complete the Kennedy Space Center’s “Passport to Explore Space” program. In October 2016, she was even the youngest to graduate from the Advanced Possum Academy, which officially certified her to go to space and be an astronaut trainee.
Naturally, Alyssa has received an overwhelming amount of media attention. However, it’s important to note that a popular story on the internet isn’t fully true – namely that NASA is training the 17-year-old girl to be an astronaut.
What Alyssa is hoping for is to be part of NASA’s proposed mission to Mars in 2033, at which point she will be 32-years-old, a perfectly suitable age to embark on such a journey. (The average age is 34.)
Bert mentioned in an interview with Teen Vogue that his daughter has received numerous offers to send her into space, but not specifically to Mars. We’re not surprised either, with the training she has received thus far:
- Learning about microgravity and how oxygen deprivation affects the body
- Learning to speak multiple languages (e.g., English Chinese, French, and Spanish)
- High altitude mission training in a hyperbaric altitude facility
- Spacesuit training
“If we can find a mission for her in the next two years, she will be the first kid in the world to go to space. If we can get it together before she’s 20, she’ll be the first teenager.”
With over two years to go, at the rate Alyssa is training and racking up experience, her dream of space travel – hopefully to Mars – could happen sooner than later! Mars One has already chosen Alyssa to be one of their ambassadors and her sense of awe and wonder really shines through in one post:
“I would love to go to mars because it is a planet that no one has been before. It’s about the same size as the earth and there are ice caps at the top and bottom of mars. That means there is water on mars. This could possibly be our next earth. Just think about all the things that are in space. For example: Planets we have never explored, galaxies that we have never heard of, stars that are just babies, black holes that are as wide as the sun to pluto multiple times and has the mass of a billion suns, parts of the universe that we have never seen. Just think of all that stuff just floating around. It’s more than you can imagine.”