Heroes

4 women at NASA are currently training to become the first to walk on Mars.

NASA's class of 2013 might just have what it takes to visit the red planet and make history.

4 women at NASA are currently training to become the first to walk on Mars.

Astronauts are dreamers.

Astronauts look up to the stars and say, "I want to go there." Not metaphorically either, like a grandparent or graduation speaker might imply. They literally want to go up there and look around. Luckily for those dreamers, if they work hard enough they actually can do it.

But let's be clear. It's hard to be an astronaut. Really hard.


You think just anyone gets to carry around that lunchbox? Think again. Photo by Shamil Zhumatov/AFP/Getty Images.

A particular combination of skill, education, experience, and "The Right Stuff" is what's necessary to go to space.

In 2013, eight people became NASA's newest class of astronauts. For the first time, half of them are women.

Nicknamed "the Eight Balls" (let's not think too much about how a team with four men and four women came up with that name), the 2013 class represents the future of NASA and space travel for more than one reason.

NASA's Class of 2013. Top from left: Jessica Meir, Josh Cassada, Victor Glover, Andrew Morgan, and Christina Hammock. Bottom from left: Anne McClain, Tyler Hague, and Nicole Aunapu Mann. Photo from NASA/Wikimedia Commons

First, the class represents what you might call a "giant leap" for women in space.

Although women have been going to space since 1963, there has never been a class of NASA astronauts with a 1:1 male-to-female ratio. It's indicative not only of an evolving administration that seeks to find more gender diversity each year, but also the rising number of women in science, a field that is still largely male-dominated.

Second, members of the Eight Balls might be among those selected to go to Mars.

That's right. We're going to Mars! Eventually. It'll take at least 15 years before NASA is even ready to hit the big red launch button (they do have a big red launch button, right?), but when the class of 2013 was selected, NASA announced that they'd be among those in the running for the inaugural trip to the red planet.

Understandably, the Eight Balls are pretty excited.

"I grew up in Spokane, Washington, and I can't recall ever not wanting to be an astronaut," astronaut Anne McClain told Glamour Magazine.

McClain, like her colleagues, was chosen from 6,100 other qualified applicants. She's flown attack helicopters on the front lines of Iraq and has master's degrees in both international security and aerospace engineering (just in case you were wondering what the competition is like).

Astronaut Anne McClain in front of her attack helicopter. I don't know which is more badass. Photo via NASA/Youtube.

Rounding out the other women in the class are Nicole Aunapu Mann, who served multiple tours in Iraq flying fighter jets with the Marine Corps; Christina Hammock Koch, who spent a year in the south pole supercooling telescopes with 10,000 gallons of liquid helium; and Jessica Meir, who has a Ph.D. in marine biology and experience diving under several feet of ice in Antarctica.

15 or so years from now, these women could be among the first human beings to set foot on Mars.

Despite the fact that women have been going to space for over 50 years, there are still people who question the skills and abilities of women who dream of going to space. It wasn't that long ago that Russia's female astronauts were questioned about their makeup before an eight-day stay in a mock spacecraft to prepare for a moon mission.

Make no mistake, these women aren't any less skilled or prepared than their male counterparts just because they're women. These women are highly trained. They've got The Stuff. They've got What It Takes.

"If we go to Mars, we'll be representing our entire species in a place we've never been before," McClain says, "To me it's the highest thing a human being can achieve."

Indeed, a successful trip to Mars would probably afford human beings the most bragging rights we've had since we came down from trees, stood up on our hind legs, and invented the slap-chop.

Besides, as McClain points out, when it comes to venturing into the great reaches of outer space, "We're all just part of team human."

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less