Second all-female crew prepares for new simulated mission to Mars

Catalan project Hypatia aims to inspire scientific vocation in girls

Seven of the new 'astronauts' that will take part in the Hypatia II mission
Seven of the new 'astronauts' that will take part in the Hypatia II mission / Laura Fíguls
Catalan News

Catalan News | @catalannews | Barcelona

March 14, 2024 03:11 PM

March 14, 2024 03:11 PM

The Catalan project Hypatia has presented the nine women that will take part in their second simulated mission to Mars, which will take place from February 2 to 15, 2025.

The simulation will take place in the Utah desert in the United States, which recreates the conditions for a manned trip to the red planet.

The 'astronauts' of Hypatia II are two aerospace engineers, two mathematicians, a geologist, a mechanical engineer, a telecommunications engineer, a nanotechnologist and a publicist, who will do research during the experiment.

The mission also aims to inform the public about science and wants to give more visibility to women working in the field.

The Hypatia Mars project started last year when the first Catalan expedition to the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in the United States took place.

The first Hypatia mission, carried out last year, had three main objectives: to carry out space research, to disseminate findings, and create female role models for young girls interested in science.

Some members of the Hypatia I mission speaking in the Hivernacle in the Ciutadella park in Barcelona
Some members of the Hypatia I mission speaking in the Hivernacle in the Ciutadella park in Barcelona / Marta Vidal

Now, the Catalan project consolidates this initiative with a new simulation to Mars in 2025.

Hypatia, backed by the Catalan government, the Catalunya La Pedrera foundation and the Banc Sabadell foundation, aims to put forward research projects, develop educational activities and raise interest among women on STEM careers.

The nine 'astronauts' of Hypatia II are aged between 23 and 54 and have been selected from around fifty candidates. 

These women will live for two weeks in the MDRS facilities in isolated conditions that will recreate those they would find in a real mission to the red planet.

As part of this, they will have to dress as astronauts when they go outside and they will eat dehydrated products, which they will also have to ration.

During the stay, the crew members will develop research projects, which they will finish defining in the coming months.

Some of the proposals they have presented are to develop solar panels resistant to the dust of the red planet, design protocols for collecting samples of geological material for analysis on Earth, manage the crew's waste, and create a children's illustrated story of the 'Mars' experience.

The Hypatia project also wants to contribute to changing the narrative of space exploration, until now dominated by men, and to inspire young girls interested in science.

"I'm a mother and I think that creating role models of women scientists who work in space is very important for girls, so they have that place where they can look at themselves and think that they can do it too," aerospace engineer Estel Blay, who is involved in the project, explained at the presentation in Barcelona on Wednesday.

The crew members also want to move away from a work model in science that they see as "very masculinized" and instead create "healthy" dynamics.

"We want to change the working mentality, be cooperative and help each other. Also integrate other values, for example, that you can dedicate time to other parts of your life without having to be a 'workaholic' to advance in the field," said Marina Martínez, the first geologist on a Hypatia expedition.