While many adults spend hours tweeting photos of what they ate for lunch, 15 year old Abigail Harrison decided to use her Twitter account to follow her dreams. The result? The beginning of a path that may lead her to becoming the first astronaut on Mars.
High School Sophomore, Abigail Harrison created a Twitter account in 7th grade as part of a history project involving the International Space Station. Her intention was to at least get in touch with employees of NASA for quotes to include in the project, but it ended up being her own forum for sharing dreams and projects. This later led to an online network which allowed access to other people who shared the same interests in space, and inspired the creation of a website and blog.
Things became even more interesting when she bumped into astronaut Luca Parmitano while returning with her mother from the Shuttle Endeavor launch. After an hour long conversation at the airport, Parmitano agreed to mentor her and remained in contact for the past couple years. This alone would have any aspiring astronaut giddy, but as it turns out, Parmitano has been selected to engineer the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-TMA-09M, which is scheduled to launch from Russia, May 28. And, Harrison will be his VIP guest at the launch. During the six months that Parmitano is in space, Abigail will email daily and follow along with his experiences living in the Space Station.
Besides aspiring to be the first astronaut to Mars, Harrison’s focus is on inspiring a passion in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and space exploration. A social media campaign allowing classrooms access to the Soyuz launch, her blog about #SoyuzAdventure on AstronautAbby.com, Skype chats with students and teachers, and visits to classrooms, are all part of her plans to inspire this passion in other children.
Although highly passionate about her journey, Abigail is well aware of the work required in becoming the first astronaut on Mars. Her advice to other kids is to work hard at whatever the interests, and when asked whether she believes if she will really become the first astronaut on Mars, she replied,
“I think I’ll have to work really hard at it and that a lot of things will have to line up correctly for it to happen but that like I said, if you work hard at something, it can happen. And it will happen.”
Abigail is clearly an inspiration to all children, and wherever her path takes her, a win all around for STEM and space exploration.
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(Photo Credit: By USGS via Wikimedia Commons)