Facebook | Alyssa Carson

19-Year-Old Has Already Been To Every NASA Space Camp, Wants To Be First On Mars

Following your dreams is not a thing that gets easier as you get older. For kids, the tentative first steps often get us going in the right direction, but the inevitable obstacles and difficulties we encounter along the way often shove us off the path long before we've reached our goals.

Not so much with Alyssa Carson. She's been laser-focused on her dream of becoming an astronaut and has made some incredible accomplishments along the way, and she's heading up the next class of space-farers with one destination in mind: Mars.

While so many kids dream of being astronauts one day, Carson is one of the few who have never stopped dreaming.

Facebook | Alyssa Carson

Carson set her sights on Mars when she was just 3 years old, inspired by an episode of The Backyardigans that focused on astronauts visiting the red planet, she told smalltalk.

That led young Carson down a rabbit hole of research into Mars, and before long, she was hooked.

Since then, Carson has become the first person to attended every NASA Space Camp and at 16, she became the youngest to graduate the Advanced Space Academy.

Facebook | Alyssa Carson

At 16, she also graduated from the Advanced PoSSUM Academy, a highly specialized program that trains students in things like upper atmospheric research, bioastronautics, and human space flight operations.

Graduating from the PoSSUM Academy made her the youngest person ever certified to go to space and an official astronaut-in-training.

A big part of Carson's mission, however, has been getting other people, and those even younger than her, excited about space and Mars.

She's been actively trying to inspire more people since she was 12, when NASA invited her to speak on a panel on future missions to Mars. So, when she isn't in class or just being a teenager, Carson is working to engage the public with appearances at schools and making videos for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

"We're kind of translating space talk and doing science experiments on TikTok. It's definitely a lot of the science geeks trying to learn this new TikTok thing, but it's about being entertaining while talking about science," she told Business Insider.

On social media, she goes by the handle NASA Blueberry, which comes from her early days in the Space Camp programs.

"I got 'Blueberry' because the second time I went to space camp, when I was really little, I wanted one of the blue flight suits that I saw everyone wearing because I wanted to be an astronaut, so I wanted to look like one. I was too short and small to fit in any of the flight suits, so my dad ended up finding this knockoff, like not really the right shade of blue," she told Business Insider.

"When I wore it everyone told me it made me look like a blueberry. So after that, throughout the day and the rest of the time at space camp, they would just say, 'Oh, Blueberry, can you do this?'"

Carson says that she's hoping to be in space, possibly on Mars, by the time she's in her 30s.

Facebook | Alyssa Carson

She's still completing her PhD in astrophysics at the Florida Institute of Technology, and when she's done that, she plans on applying to NASA the next time they put out a call for astronaut applicants.

NASA has plans to be on Mars in the 2030s, and Carson wants to be on that mission.

As she says, the journey is just as important as reaching Mars.

Facebook | Alyssa Carson

"Mars has so many opportunities that we just don’t fully comprehend yet," she told smalltalk. "And I think that getting to Mars is that next step of understanding that hopefully on the mission to Mars we can learn more about the water, the resources, the atmosphere with opportunities are with Mars and also with getting to Mars we’re developing so many other technologies that we eventually develop and use for everyday life."

h/t: Business Insider, smalltalk

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