Grants For Women logo

The Online Guide to Women Grants, Funding, Scholarships, and More!
Home What Are Grants? Opportunities Types of Grants How To Apply News/ Blog

This Woman Will Lead One of NASA's Newest Discovery Missions

NASA recently announced their plans for two new Discovery missions, and one of those missions will be led by a woman. The purpose of the new missions is to explore asteroids, the oldest parts of our solar system.

The best of the best

The missions will cost around $500 million. Needless to say, the missions will be led by the best of the best. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University, will lead the second mission that will explore 16 Psyche, the massive metallic asteroid that resides in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Elkins-Tanton is extremely well qualified, having been awarded multiple fellowships and awards for her work from the National Academies of Sciences, the National Science Foundation, and Oxford University. She explains, “[The mission] will help us gain insights into the metal interior of all rocky planets in our solar system, including Earth.”

The first mission will be led by Harold Levison, an astronomer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose of this mission is to explore the interstellar rocks that orbit around the sun near Jupiter.

More women needed

Elkins-Tanton is by far in a field where few women dare to go. A study published in 2016 by researchers at the University of Washington found the gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields pose a particular reaction from males. As Jen Goldbeck, a computer scientist University of Maryland, explains, “Because there are so few of us, if one woman struggles with something or makes a mistake, some guys will presume that all women are like that (even if there are guys who struggle more).”

Nevertheless, one woman is going to take the lead in one of the most important NASA missions yet, proving that women can indeed excel in STEM fields. We need more women in space exploration!