science

Meet the 17 year old who hopes to be the first human to reach Mars


There aren’t many people who can claim the dreams they had in early childhood shaped the course of their entire life.  

But for one American teenager, Alyssa Carson, seeing images of spacefaring cartoon characters on television prompted a lifelong obsession.

Aged three years-old, she told her father ‘Daddy, I want to be an astronaut, and be one of the people that go to Mars’.

Since then, she has made it her life’s work to make her childhood dream a reality. 

In the year 2033 – when Mr Carson will be 32 – she plans to soar off to the red planet, where she will help a Martian colony thrive.

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For one American teenager, Alyssa Carson (pictured), based in Hammond, Louisiana, seeing images of spacefaring cartoon characters prompted a lifelong obsession. This image is taken from her website, set up to promote her efforts to visit Mars and interact with her peers

For one American teenager, Alyssa Carson (pictured), based in Hammond, Louisiana, seeing images of spacefaring cartoon characters prompted a lifelong obsession. This image is taken from her website, set up to promote her efforts to visit Mars and interact with her peers

The 17-year-old girl, from Hammond, Louisiana, has been obsessed with space from the moment she watched the cartoon The Backyardigans, in which five animal friends go on imaginary adventures in their backyard, including a mission to Mars.

This plotline became the birth of a lifelong quest to realise her dream.

Ms Carson spreads her message to her hundreds of thousands of followers across her various social media accounts and blog.

She also attends seminars and other public speaking events to address her peers and encourages other youngsters – particularly women – to get involved in science, technology, engineering and maths. 

Speaking to Teen Vogue, she said: ‘I did the same thing as other kids, like switching my mind about careers, wanting to be a teacher or the president one day.  

‘But the way I always thought about it was I would become an astronaut, go to Mars, come back, and then be a teacher or the president.’  

Nasa doesn't officially accept applications to become an astronaut until a person is 18. Much of her training, including familiarising with equipment (pictured) has been carried out through Project Possum

Nasa doesn’t officially accept applications to become an astronaut until a person is 18. Much of her training, including familiarising with equipment (pictured) has been carried out through Project Possum

This seemingly offhand statement became the birth of a lifelong quest to realise her dream. Ms Carson spreads her message to her hundreds of thousands of followers across her various social media accounts and blog.  This image shows her Possum flight suit

This seemingly offhand statement became the birth of a lifelong quest to realise her dream. Ms Carson spreads her message to her hundreds of thousands of followers across her various social media accounts and blog.  This image shows her Possum flight suit

Over the years, Ms Carson has undertaken as much training as possible to prepare her for her eventual journey. This image shows her preparing for underwater training at Project Possum, part of Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

Over the years, Ms Carson has undertaken as much training as possible to prepare her for her eventual journey. This image shows her preparing for underwater training at Project Possum, part of Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

Ms Carson's dad enrolled her in the United States Space Camp in 2008, which she has attended several times since. This image shows her prepare to enter the water in a simulated space suit at one of Project Possum's facilities 

Ms Carson’s dad enrolled her in the United States Space Camp in 2008, which she has attended several times since. This image shows her prepare to enter the water in a simulated space suit at one of Project Possum’s facilities 

WHAT ARE NASA’S PLANS FOR A MANNED MISSION TO MARS IN 2033?

Mars has become the next giant leap for mankind’s exploration of space.

But before humans get to the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps by returning to the moon for a year-long mission.

Details of a the mission in lunar orbit have been unveiled as part of a timeline of events leading to missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Nasa has outlined its four stage plan (pictured) which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at he Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington DC yesterday. This will entail multiple missions to the moon over coming decades

Nasa has outlined its four stage plan (pictured) which it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars at he Humans to Mars Summit held in Washington DC yesterday. This will entail multiple missions to the moon over coming decades

In May 2017, Greg Williams, deputy associate administrator for policy and plans at Nasa, outlined the space agency’s four stage plan that it hopes will one day allow humans to visit Mars, as well as its expected time-frame.

Phase one and two will involve multiple trips to lunar space, to allow for construction of a habitat which will provide a staging area for the journey.

The last piece of delivered hardware would be the actual Deep Space Transport vehicle that would later be used to carry a crew to Mars. 

And a year-long simulation of life on Mars will be conducted in 2027. 

Phase three and and four will begin after 2030 and will involve sustained crew expeditions to the Martian system and surface of Mars.

While Nasa doesn’t officially accept applications to become an astronaut until a person is 18, the agency is purportedly working with Ms Carson to realise her ambitions.

As part of its long term plans for the red planet, Nasa has previously spoken of sending US astronauts into orbit by 2033 and onto the planet’s surface by 2039.  

The mission will include growing food, conducting science experiments and looking for signs of life.

Over the years, Ms Carson has undertaken as much training as possible to prepare her for her eventual journey. 

Her dad enrolled her in the United States Space Camp in 2008, which she has attended several times since.

Ms Carson's obsession with space started when she watched the cartoon The Backyardigans, in which five animal friends go on imaginary adventures in their backyard - including a mission to Mars. This image is taken from her website

Ms Carson’s obsession with space started when she watched the cartoon The Backyardigans, in which five animal friends go on imaginary adventures in their backyard – including a mission to Mars. This image is taken from her website

Aged three, Ms Carson told her father 'Daddy, I want to be an astronaut, and be one of the people that go to Mars' and has dedicated her efforts since to achieving that goal. This image is also taken from her webiste

Aged three, Ms Carson told her father ‘Daddy, I want to be an astronaut, and be one of the people that go to Mars’ and has dedicated her efforts since to achieving that goal. This image is also taken from her webiste

She also ventured to others in in Laval, Quebec, and Izmir, Turkey, eventually becoming the first person to visit all three Nasa Space Camps at the age of 12.

During her training, she has learned about microgravity and the effect on the body of losing oxygen. 

She has taken part it simulated missions, built her own rockets and robotics and even directed her fellow space cadets under her callsign ‘Blueberry’, which she uses as the handle for her various online accounts.

In April she also attended an underwater course, to prepare her for the disorienting effects of space. 





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