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Meganne Christian

Member of the ESA Astronauts Reserve, we asked her some questions

SpaceInfo Club had the pleasure to ask her some questions, here are some!

To read the full interview log into your Member Account or sign up - for free! - to the SpaceInfo Members Club.

Born in Kent, England to New Zealand parents, she moved at the age of five to Wollongong, Australia. At young age, she already showed her talent for scientific subjects, being part of the school's 2002 international championship team of Future Problem Solving Program International.

In 2009 she received a a Bachelor of Engineering and the university medal in industrial chemistry, at the University of New South Wales. Going on with her passion for chemistry and material science, in 2011 was awarded with the Heinz Harant award and received her doctorate in 2014 researching on hydrogen storage with borohydrides. In 2022 she received her Italian citizenship, but was already studying in Bologna after her doctorate, in particular at the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM) at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).Another important step in her career was holding the role of atmospheric physicist and meteorologist at the Concordia Station located in Antarctic, in 2019.

When did you decided you wanted to be an astronaut and what was the event or the person that made you think about being an astronaut?

I've always been fascinated by space, and as a child I was always enthralled by lessons about the stars and black holes, and by my visits to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the Kennedy Space Center. However, there was never a space agency in Australia until recently so I didn't think it would be possible for me to become an astronaut and I put it to the back of my mind. Later in life, I moved to Europe and learnt about the European Space Agency, particularly when I spent a year in Antarctica and ESA did tests on all of the winter-over crew (including myself) because our 9-month isolation in such an extreme location was a lot like a long duration space mission. That's when the idea came back to me.

When did you decided to turn your dream into a real goal?

When I was in Antarctica, I heard the first rumors that ESA would be recruiting new astronauts soon. Before my experience there, I didn't think that I had the skills to do everything that an astronaut needs to do, so I probably wouldn't have applied. But in Antarctica I took on a completely new challenge with tasks and subjects that were nothing like anything I had done before so I had to learn a lot very quickly. It went well and I loved it, so that gave me the confidence to realize that I could do almost anything that I put my mind to, and that's when my dream of becoming an astronaut became a concrete goal.

You are a scuba diver and a very adventurous person, while also being a very prepared and skilled researcher, which of these two, maybe, complementary aspects do you think will help you the most in your career as an astronaut?

It is important for an astronaut to be a well-rounded person, so I think both aspects will help a lot. Being adventurous and having experienced some extreme environments in the past helps you to understand what you are in for, both risks and rewards. It is also important to be a quick learner, and be able to pick up scientific concepts reasonably easily because you need to act as the hands of researchers who have dedicated their lives to planning these important experiments but can't be there to run them themselves. Above all, having both an adventurous and scientific background helps me to solve problems quickly and efficiently, and be adaptable as situations change.

Which object would you like to fly with you in Space and why?

I would like to take my knitted penguin, Pengaroo. I knitted her for my husband many years ago and she has been on all our travels and adventures since then, including in zero gravity and Antarctica! 

Read more inside the full edition of the SpaceInfo Mag!

(Images are all courtesy of Meganne Christian)


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