HYPATIA I: A mission of nine female scientists travels to the Mars Research Desert Station

In April 1961, Yuri Gagarin was the first astronaut to carry out a manned journey into space. Since then, only 1 out of every 10 people who have travelled into space have been women. The Hypatia I mission was created to give visibility to the role of women in science and to motivate future generations of young adults and children to pursue STEM careers, by bringing together nine female researchers from different disciplines and of different ages to travel, for the first time, to the Mars Research Desert Station and carry out research and reporting activities. These scientists are Mariona Badenas, astrophysicist, Carla Conejo, biologist, Ariadna Farrés, mathematician, Laia Ribas, researcher, Neus Sabaté, physicist, Cesca Cufí, aerospace engineer, Anna Bach, analyst, Helena Arias, engineering student, and journalist Núria Jar.

The Mars Research Desert Station, where the nine crew members will live together during the mission, is an analog Mars station located in the Utah desert, in the United States. Its orography and geology recreates, as far as possible, what a crew mission to Mars would be like, and the participants will be able to research issues that may arise in future missions to Mars.

Carla Conejo, biologist, scientific researcher and Hypatia I crew member, explains to us what it was like selecting the participants for the mission: “We were looking for local talent that would be a good fit with the mission’s purpose and suited to the tasks to be carried out. It was not difficult at all for us to find that kind of talent, in fact we found it very close to home”.

The mission will last 15 days, from 16 to 28 April, but the participants will spend many months preparing for it. Núria Jar, scientific journalist and Hypatia I crew member, told us: “We have had to do absolutely everything, from commissioning a space suit designed especially for women, to seeking funding from foundations and organisations that are supporting this mission”.

This project, which benefits from our collaboration, is aligned with our commitment to support innovative initiatives that encourage and give visibility to research and that promote talent, particularly among young people.

We will be keeping a close watch on the research and progress of the nine talented women that form the Hypatia I crew. Find out more about the mission in this video: