Meet the 13 astronauts who could be the first humans on Mars.
One of those astronauts, Zena Cardman, calls Williamsburg, Virginia, her home.
Cardman has a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in marine sciences at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
She was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, working at Pennsylvania State University.
Her research focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep-sea sediments.
Her field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both a scientist and crew member and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho, and Hawaii.
Friday was the first public graduation ceremony for NASA astronauts. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas were among the speakers at the event.
The astronauts completed more than two years of required basic training and are the first to graduate since the agency announced its Artemis program.
“I congratulate these exceptional men and women on being the first graduating class of the Artemis program,” Cruz said.
The new graduates may be assigned to missions destined for the International Space Station, the moon, and Mars.
NASA will send the first woman and next man to the surface on the moon by 2024.
“I congratulate these exceptional men and women on being the first graduating class of the Artemis program,” Senator Cruz said.
“They are the pioneers of the final frontier whose work will help fortify America’s leadership in space for generations to come. I am excited for the opportunities ahead of them, including landing the first woman ever on the surface of the moon, and having the first boots to step on Mars.”
Additional lunar missions are planned once a year thereafter and human exploration of Mars is targeted for the mid-2030s.