Have you ever wondered how to become an astronaut? These 5 things should clear that up.

For everyone out there looking for a new job, NASA posted a job opening for their next batch of astronaut candidates.

It never occurred to me that this is the kind of job you could just apply for, but there it is. People don't just wake up as astronauts.


Thinking about busting out the resume?

Here are five things NASA's job description reveals about what it takes to be an astronaut.


1. They'll want to know pretty much everything about you.

Image by tigerlily713/Pixabay.

The position includes a background check, a health check, a financial check, and a drug check. And you have to be a U.S. citizen. Plus you have to have five, yes five, references.

That said, they've tried to make the process at least a little less intimidating.

"We try to make it just as laid back and informal as we can. Obviously, the person will bring a lot of stress and excitement," Duane Ross, manager of the Astronaut Selection Office, told Popular Science in a 2013 interview. "There are no trick questions or equations on a board — the interview is about them."

2. You've got to like traveling.

"Frequent travel may be required," says the job ad. Yeah, I bet.

And you'll need to get used to paperwork. The story goes that the crew of Apollo 11 had to fill out customs forms after returning from the moon!

You'll need to fill some out too, but that's more because you'll be visiting a lot of different nations, rather than any fears of illegal (literal) aliens. Astronauts may need to travel to Japan, Europe, Russia, or really any other space-fairing nation in order to train with their personnel and equipment.

You won't have to pay for it out of pocket, luckily. NASA's got you covered. They even reimbursed Buzz Aldrin after he submitted a travel voucher to the moon. The cost? $33. A lot cheaper than the quarter of a million dollars Virgin Galactic sells their space tickets for.

Plus, you've got to move to Texas.

3. You've got to fit in a space suit.

Image from Christopher Michel/Flickr.

Specifically, you have to be between 5’2” and 6’3” tall. And don’t have high blood pressure. It’s also OK to wear glasses (or get laser eye surgery), but you’ve got to be able to see what you’re doing.

You’ve got to be a good educational fit as well. They want at least a bachelor’s degree for this round of applications, and it’s got to be in science, math, or engineering.

4. Yes, you get dental.

Image from Barbaricino/Wikimedia Commons.

As a candidatem you’ll be making the equivalent of at least $33 an hour, plus benefits, including health and life insurance.

Funnily enough, it wasn’t always this way. The story goes that the Apollo 11 astronauts couldn’t afford the life insurance that something as dangerous as going to the moon would require. So instead, they filled out hundreds of signatures.

"If they did not return from the moon, their families could sell them," said Robert Pearlman, a space historian and collector in a 2012 article from NPR, “to not just fund their day-to-day lives, but also fund their kids' college education and other life needs.”

5. You might have to wait a while to get to space.

First of all, you’ve got to complete a two-year training program before you earn your space wings (side note: Space Wings is my Prog Rock Paul McCartney cover band).

But even then, blast off might take some time. There’s only so much space in the space station and though NASA technically employs 47 active astronauts right now, only two — Scott Kelly and Tim Kopra — are currently orbiting.

But there'll be plenty to do once you get there.

Though the Space Shuttle has been retired, there’s still plenty for NASA to do. There are plans for a new launch system, a mission to Europa — one of Jupiter’s moons — and the capture of a near-Earth asteroid.

Basically.

Capturing an asteroid sounds crazy, but it could be the first step toward mining them. Lifting stuff off the Earth is really expensive and difficult, but if we could actually manufacture space stuff in space itself, we could open up a lot of possibilities. Plus there's the fact that some asteroids are chock-full of valuable or rare metals, which could make some people very rich if they could get their hands on them.

Plus there's Mars. NASA wants to get a human being on the red planet in the 2030s. And Curiosity, NASA’s chattiest rover, just tweeted some new pictures of stuff it found. What a time to be alive!


It's a big ol' universe out there. I, for one, am excited to get out there and see it.

GIF via Discovery/YouTube.

Heroes

On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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