Be inspired to reach for the stars

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I changed my studies to follow my passion, and now I’m part of the Mars 160 Mission.

I’m from a remote part of North India and when I was in school, I wanted to become a singer; I liked history and literature. I never thought that I would be doing science one day, although I was always innately fascinated towards the natural world and its processes.

When I went to Grad school, I started following my family’s dream for me to become a civil servant. I was happy because it was a prestigious job, so I worked hard. But while reading a thick zoology book as part of my preparation for one of my exams the word space biology came into my life. Long story short, I was completely mesmerized by the idea of the possibility of exploring life beyond Earth.

There was now something that kept pushing me towards delving deep into these ideas and the adventure of exploration, although I had nothing to do with this subject at that time. So, I made a big decision. I left my civil services preparation (which I had almost completed) and embarked into the world of space science and exploration.

But I had no clue how I was going to do it. I knew my destination but did not know how to reach it.

The main obstacle was making the transition from arts to science. I researched the amazing science of astrobiology and learned about the grad level courses in astrobiology abroad and found that it is a truly interdisciplinary science. I wanted to  first obtain a higher degree in microbiology, as I was blown away by the idea of finding trapped microorganisms inside ancient salt crystals, which was very relevant from the Martian perspective. But I lacked necessary training and experience, which was  a great challenge and caused me several failures. That was a difficult phase, and the word difficult is a true understatement here.

Convincing my family who really wanted me to pursue the administrative profession was a huge thing as well. But my parents’ support was always there and I feel blessed for that. They have been my strength, even when they felt I was moving towards an uncertainty.

So, I kept moving ahead and decided to obtain some short-term academic training in a biological sciences laboratory based in Hyderabad as a research trainee. I am thankful that they allowed me to work in the microbiology lab even though I had no prior experience but had enough passion to learn. It took me lot of time and hard work before I was offered my postgraduate position at Essex. Immediately after graduating, I found my dream job, studying ancient salt deposits from an astrobiological perspective and

I became Crew Biologist on The Mars Society’s Mars 160 Twin Desert-Arctic Analog Mission.

I’m part of a team trying to simulate a real Mars mission in the Utah Desert to understand what it would be like to live and carry out scientific research on Mars. I am  performing scientific research which has significant implications to search for life on Mars.

Anushree sampling during EVA

But I still have a long way to go!

So, I would like to convey this message to you –   find your passion and do the work that you love no matter how difficult things appear at the first place. Never consider a work menial or insignificant as you don’t know what you can end up with by taking that little step. What is important is to just pour your heart into what you do like as you will not get another chance. Trust that if your dream is based on the truth and goodness for this planet and its people, it has to be materialised one day. All you need to do is “KEEP TRYING” even when nothing seems to work. That’s what I tried to do, which has certainly been difficult but I always got strength from my faith in my own capabilities and the intensity of my desires. Giving up is a huge loss for you and for the planet you are living on, because if you don’t give up you are on the way to creating something very profound, and in turn presenting an example which can illustrate the path to many who dream and work.

So follow your heart. That is what I did!

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This letter, written by Anushree while based on the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS, Utah Desert) to inspire students, was first published by Astroproject India. Follow Anushree’s adventures on Twitter: @mycro_cosm

 

Anushree

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