© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Journey To Mars: Former NASA Astronaut Discusses Progress & The Unknown

NASA Image and Video Library
STS-91 Mission Specialist Wendy B. Lawrence is assisted with her preparations to enter the crew cabin of the Space Shuttle Discovery at Launch Pad 39A by white room crew member Greg Lohning.

Humans first left Earth 59 years ago, landing on the moon nine years later. Since then, we’ve orbited the Earth, sent rovers to Mars, and sent people to live on the international space station. And it won’t be too long before we make the journey to Mars to begin our extraterrestrial colonization.

Wendy Lawrence is a former NASA astronaut who’s contributed to the collective knowledge that’ll make the journey to Mars possible. She’s also a retired U.S. Navy captain, a former helicopter pilot, and an engineer.

She shares what, so far, has made the journey to Mars impossible: "There’s a type of radiation called galactic cosmic radiation that is very, very difficult to protect the astronauts from. And to effectively shield your spacecraft from that — that’s the technical challenge that still hasn’t quite been solved … "

On whether exercises meant to keep up an astronaut's bone density and muscle with Mars' low level of gravity, Lawrence says: "Will that help? Absolutely. Is it going to be enough? That's still an unknown."

There are still many unknowns.

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.