A student wearing a typical Ph.D. graduation outfit. Image credit: @Hsengkeungmurng99 (CC0)

Surviving Grad School: 3 Tips Before You Even Apply (Medium)

Graduate school is hard. Not going to sugar coat that. But it can also be a truly amazing and unique time in your life, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be miserable on top of being difficult. Here are some things you can do and think about before you even start applying to Ph.D. programs* that can help make the experience better—and hopefully something that makes you grow as a person and as a researcher:

*And if you’re on the fence about whether getting a Ph.D. is right for you in the first place, check out this other article.

See more: Surviving Grad School: 3 Tips Before You Even Apply by Tanya Harrison

The International Impact of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing (Medium)

The Space Race might have been America versus the Soviets, but how was the race viewed by the rest of the world?

On July 20, 1969, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on a celestial body beyond Earth while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins kept dutiful watch from orbit overhead. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War and a “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, this amazing achievement could have easily been touted as a win for the U.S., laden with patriotic messages of America being the first to land people on the Moon.

See more: The International Impact of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing by Tanya Harrison

Wally Funk Is Defying Gravity and 60 Years of Exclusion From Space (The New York Times)

From The New York Times:

Wally Funk is finally going to space. When on Tuesday she crosses that arbitrary altitude that divides the heavens from Earth below, in a rocket built by Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin, she’ll be 82, the oldest person ever to go into space. But that is not what makes her so special.

Ms. Funk is one of the few people who has directly participated in both eras of human spaceflight so far — the one that started as an urgent race between rival nations, and the one that we are now transitioning into, in which private companies and the billionaires who finance them are in fierce competition for customers, comeuppance and contracts. That she was ultimately excluded from the first phase because she is a woman, and will now be included in the next one, also highlights difficult questions of whom space is for.

See more: Wally Funk Is Defying Gravity and 60 Years of Exclusion From Space by Mary Robinette Kowal

I never thought being queer impacted my professional life as a scientist. I was wrong.(Medium)

For years, I’ve been quite frank and open on social media (mainly Twitter) about a lot of aspects of my life and professional career as a scientist: How having a physical disability has impacted things, my experiences with harassment that nearly drove me out of the field, making the shift from academia to industry, and more. But my gender identity and sexuality are never things I really touched on directly because I didn’t think it affected my professional life—and the things I had made the decision to talk about on social media were pretty much all related to my career. When it came to my personal life in terms of things like my family or who I dated, I very intentionally kept that separate because none of those people had signed up to be in a public spotlight the way that I’d chosen for myself.

It’s not something I ever kept secret, mind you. I just felt like if it didn’t impact my professional life the way it might have for some other people who were more publicly and vocally out, then those were the people who could speak to those experiences better than I could. While being queer didn’t feel like it directly impacted my daily life in a professional sense, I did recognize that I wasn’t able to fully relate to some of the experiences of women in the field.

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/i-never-thought-being-queer-impacted-my-professional-life-as-a-scientist-i-was-wrong-e29743bf458

‘We’re not invisible people’: Meet these 6 LGBTQ scientists who are changing the world (AccuWeather)

From AccuWeather:

In 1977, a physics student at Stanford University in California saw an ad in the school newspaper inviting women to apply to the astronaut program. She applied for the job and ended up becoming one of the six women hired. Six years later, Sally Ride found her name in the news as the first American woman to fly in space. Today, she is also the first-recognized LGBT+ astronaut and first-recognized LGBTQIA+ person in space.

While Ride and others had begun laying the groundwork for LGBT+ folks in STEM, many have voiced that inclusivity is still a work in progress for the field. Here are a few scientists who have continued forging a path for those who follow.

Read more: ‘We’re not invisible people’: Meet these 6 LGBTQ scientists who are changing the world by Adriana Navarro

Earth’s nearest orbit is crowded with satellites, but sending them farther has its own dangers (CTV)

From CTV:

TORONTO — As Earth’s closest orbit becomes overcrowded with satellites and space junk, companies are increasingly looking to the planet’s second-closest orbit for expansion – but it’s rife with danger.

Low Earth orbit (LEO), Earth’s closest orbit, is running out of room as tech companies, such as SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb, race to send up their own mega-constellations of communication satellites.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to eventually launch 42,000 Starlink satellites into space, Amazon hopes to send 3,236 satellites, and OneWeb has plans for approximately 650 of its own satellites.

“I’m sure a lot of people think of space as being this vast space, no pun intended, so how are we possibly going to run out of room when we have these tiny little satellites compared to the size of the universe?” Tanya Harrison, the director of strategy at Planet Labs, told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.

“But the orbit altitudes that are actually useful for us here on the ground are quite limited.”

This is where medium Earth orbit (MEO) comes in.

Read more: Earth’s nearest orbit is crowded with satellites, but sending them farther has its own dangers by Jackie Dunham

Newly Discovered Glaciers on Mars May Help Humans Settle on the Red Planet One Day (CBC)

From CBC:

If humans are to truly become interplanetary settlers, we’re going to need to have access to water — a lot of it. But loading it on a rocket would be heavy, and trying to escape Earth’s gravity with all that weight would be costly.

That’s why space agencies such as NASA and the European Space Agency, as well as planetary geologists, have been looking for sources of water on Mars.

Now, a new paper published in the journal Icarus suggests there is a unique subsurface ice feature in a location that would be optimal for future explorers of the Red Planet.

Read more: Newly discovered glaciers on Mars may help humans settle on the Red Planet one day by Nicole Mortillaro

Mushrooms on Mars: A “Modern Day Galileo” Fights to Prove Alien Life Exists (Inverse)

From Inverse:


So when Das, Mars scientist, Curiosity rover team member, and keen mushroom forager —heard that a team of researchers claim there are mushrooms on Mars, she was skeptical, to say the least.

Here’s the claim: In a new paper, the team use images captured by NASA’s Opportunity rover to show what they say are fungi on Mars — clear evidence of life on another planet. Somewhat incredibly, this paper has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

The paper is the latest in a series by Rhawn Joseph, a self-proclaimed neuroscientist who strongly believes that the proof for life on Mars is right in front of our eyes, despite most other members of the scientific community strongly disagreeing with him.

“Our team is advancing science, but those who oppose us are anti-science,” Joseph tells Inverse.

Das is firmly among the critics. While by day she is a graduate student at McGill University and a member of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory team, her foraging hobby gives her a pretty good idea of what it takes to make the right environment for a mushroom. For mushrooms to grow, she tells Inverse, they need to be a very specific temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Mars, for its part, has no rain, and no humidity.

“It’s quite complicated to find mushrooms even on Earth, so let alone on a planet that long ago lost its atmospheric water,” Das tells Inverse. “I don’t think the mushrooms would like that.”

Which begs the question: Why is a peer-reviewed journal apparently going to publish such spurious claims?

Read more: Mushrooms on Mars: A “Modern Day Galileo” Fights to Prove Alien Life Exists by Passant Rabbie