Tanya Harrison at the Toronto Science Chase in her wheelchair decked out to look like the Curiosity rover

My Disability Does Define Me (Medium)

I resisted the idea of this for years, but I’ve finally come to terms with it.

When I was a child, I was a pretty normal kid in terms of physical activity. Growing up mostly before the age of home internet, all we had at our house was a Commodore 64 that my dad could only sporadically get to work. This meant my younger sister and I spent a lot of time playing outside. In grade 5, I was on the local basketball team—chosen specifically because I thought it would be unexpected of me as the shortest person in my grade (which is also why I chose to play trombone the same year). Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t great at basketball and so in grade 6, I switched over to softball after being inspired by the Mariners nearly making it to the World Series. From about age 7, I’d also been an avid dancer. One of my only career aspirations beyond my love of space in my entire life was to become a professional Irish dancer after Riverdance took the world by storm.

But as I entered junior high, everything changed.

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/my-disability-does-define-me-a7fc3b9d9881

What Should I Study if I Want to Work in Space? (Medium)

The space industry is rapidly growing, with an almost overwhelming array of options to chose from.

At the SEDS Ascension conference today, a student question came up during a panel I was on: If you’re interested in a lot of different things when it comes to space, how do you pick what to focus on?

This is a great question, and one that would have helped me early in my university path in terms of selecting a major. Starting college, I knew I was obsessed with Mars, and so I went into astronomy because planets are in space. It wasn’t until the end of my junior year that I realized I should’ve majored in geology to study Mars. While I don’t regret the time I spent in astronomy—I still learned a lot of interesting and useful stuff—it would’ve definitely saved me some time and energy to have gone directly into geology!

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/what-should-i-study-if-i-want-to-work-in-space-1a4f66477f13

5 Career Options in Space Beyond Academia (Medium)

Building upon the article I posted about the pyramid scheme of academia, let’s get into some specific non-academic career options if you are studying space-related fields.

This list is U.S.-centric, but there are likely analogues to each option in many other countries as well. Please note that none of the companies or entities mentioned in this article are meant as an endorsement, and are provided for informational purposes only.

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/5-career-options-in-space-beyond-academia-f2c31802a39

2020 Was a Great Year for Things Trying to Leave this Planet. (Medium)

While things were pretty rough here on Earth in 2020, it was an amazing year for space exploration. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights and remind ourselves of some of the truly awesome things humans are capable of…

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/2020-was-a-great-year-for-things-trying-to-leave-this-planet-30dea1689dfa

Call Me Doctor (Medium)

This week, The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by Joseph Epstein that the institution with which he is (or now perhaps “was”) honorarily affiliated, Northwestern University, themselves called “misogynistic.” I’m not even going to link to the piece here because it doesn’t deserve the internet traffic, but Google it if you wish to read more. Epstein opens with…

Read more: https://medium.com/an-injustice/call-me-doctor-7884b56c7024

Back to School with Planet, Week 4 | Mars or Earth? (Medium)

Mars: The Red Planet. Sometimes our nearest neighbor beyond the Moon (switching off with Venus depending on the time of the year). A cold, desolate desert of a planet — currently the only planet in our Solar System inhabited solely by robots.

What could this red world possibly have in common with Earth?

It turns out, quite a lot!

Read more: https://medium.com/planet-stories/back-to-school-with-planet-week-4-mars-or-earth-858123465958

Academia is a Pyramid Scheme (Medium)

Space has been my career goal since I was a child. As a teenager, I began looking in earnest into what exactly that would entail, reaching out to local space advocacy groups and folks working in aerospace for guidance. From this I formulated my 5-step plan…

Read more: https://tanyaofmars.medium.com/academia-is-a-pyramid-scheme-bfac519fa05e

After Working on Mars, I’ll Never See Earth the Same Way (Medium)

For over a decade, I went to work on Mars.

There was a routine to each day: Come into the office. Make a cup of Earl Grey. Sit down at my computer and delve into the images sent to Earth from Mars overnight. In those moments, I was no longer on Earth. A watchful robotic eye orbiting 175 miles above the surface of the red planet acted as my proxy in the harshness of space.

Alas, I wasn’t wearing an awesome spacesuit to make the journey — although I would like to think that my collection of space-themed T-shirts was at least somewhat as cool…

Read more: https://humanparts.medium.com/a-martian-perspective-on-earth-27f29f72b41

Monitoring Martian Weather, Part 1: On the Ground (Medium)

NASA’s InSight lander has been making a splash in the news thanks to its capable weather station—but it’s not the first robotic meteorologist we’ve had on Mars.

Last week, NASA unveiled the first weather data from its InSight lander, which arrived on Mars in late November of last year. With a primary goal of collecting seismic and heat flow data to help us learn about the interior structure of the Red Planet, InSight also requires extremely sensitive information about martian weather. This is because it needs to be able to distinguish possible “marsquakes” and underground temperature swings from other disturbances, such as gusts of wind. The Auxiliary Payload Subsystem (APSS) measures…

Read more: Monitoring Martian Weather, Part 1: On the Ground (Medium)