Students in the Department of Earth,
Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences are
looking to follow in the space boots of
Andrew Feustel, a 1991 EAPS graduate who
became a NASA astronaut in 2000. Feustel
is one of 23 Purdue alumni to have been
named astronauts — and the only one from
the College of Science.
Purdue planetary science students
have had their eyes to the skies for years,
studying the surfaces of Mars, the moon
and other planetary bodies. Professors Jay
Melosh and Briony Horgan have helped to
attract students to the West Lafayette campus and have had a marked role in shaping
Melosh, Distinguished Professor of
Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences,
and Physics, has been a world leader on
planetary impact craters for decades.
Horgan, assistant professor in EAPS, is
highly involved in space exploration missions, including NASA’s Curiosity Rover on
Mars and the Mars 2020 rover.
President Barack Obama has set a goal
of sending astronauts to Mars by the 2030s,
and NASA received a record number of
applications for its latest astronaut class.
Purdue graduate student Marie McBride
was one of more than 18,000 applicants. She
is a member of Horgan’s team who concentrates on research of ancient lunar volcanic
“These are places where there was
volcanic activity at one point on the moon,”
McBride says. “Some of these deposits are
very glassy, which means they are great
places for oxygen to be extracted during
future missions. It’s really important to
characterize and map these areas for pos-
sible future exploration.”
Feustel made two spaceflights in his
career, 2009 and 2011. McBride is striving
for a similar opportunity.
We spoke with her about the strides
she has taken toward fulfilling that dream.