By Jasman Sahota
On Feb. 1, the Canadian Space Agency announced another astronaut selection process, bringing in candidates from all over Canada. The last selection was announced in 2008, almost 10 years ago.
In the current selection, there are 72 candidates all contending to be Canada’s next top astronaut.
Along with the excitement surrounding the selection, this year marked the 25th anniversary of Canada’s first woman in space, Roberta Bondar. She travelled aboard the space shuttle Discovery in January, 1992.
She not only holds the title of Canada’s first woman in space, but of the world’s first neurologist in space. She paved the way for young girls to believe in the possibility of one day slipping the surly bonds of earth. What a trailblazer for women, astronauts and scientists alike.
Roberta Bondar’s experiments in space focused on changes that happen to the body in a weightless environment. It was the first International Microgravity Laboratory mission. (Can you imagine conducting experiments in space?)
She studied body changes, such as eye motion, inner ear and back pain. Her experiments and data from other space missions helped scientists better understand how an astronaut’s body recovers from time spent in space.
Her findings set the groundwork for research into neurological conditions like spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis.
These experiments are not her only contribution from her time in space. Along with them came a lot of unique photographs of the Earth from space. (Talk about a nice view!)
If all that wasn’t enough to put on her resume, Roberta continues expanding her career as a scientific researcher, photographer, author and environmental interpreter.
Along with Roberta’s many firsts as an astronaut, more recently came a special first to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her space mission. The Royal Canadian Mint released a commemorative coin (that also glows in the dark)!
The only question now is: which Canadian astronaut will we celebrate next?
Jasman Sahota is a Science Communication graduate student at Laurentian University. She has a Bachelor of Sciences degree from the University of Guelph. She enjoys traveling, photography and cooking. The Talking Science column is supplied by a rotating group of writers from the science communication class at Laurentian University. Have a burning science question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.