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I am studying Biology, with the main focus on Ecology, at the University of Innsbruck. My purpose was, to write a thesis concerning glacier-, lake- or river ecosystems. It was important to me, to work on a new topic. I wasn’t interested in repeating something, other Bachelor students or scientists already had researched. So I got in contact with Mag. Dr. Birgit Sattler and asked for a thesis concerning those topics. She sent me the publication “Biosignature Preservation and Detection in Mars Analog Environments”, published by Hays et al. in 2017 and only mentioned that it wasn’t exactly what I was asking for, but she was quite sure it would be an exciting topic to write about and definitely something new.
So I got curious and decided to meet Gernot to get an idea about my possible thesis. After a 30 minutes talk, I was fascinated about a topic that never crossed my mind before. As a biologist it is obvious to think about processes on Earth. I never thought about the importance of science beyond our Earth’s atmosphere. So, after this talk with Gernot, I decided to write my thesis about the search for life on Mars. It was my task, to develop an Exploration Cascade, how to search for life on Mars. Yep…sounds crazy, especially if you are a Biology Bachelor student, who never thought about Mars and Space at all.
My first weeks at the ÖWF were exhausting and super interesting at the same time. I had to study everything from the beginning. I had no idea what my Exploration Cascade should look like and what it should contain. I tried to select promising detectable biosignatures and studied required instruments I never had heard before; Emmanuel Lalla helped me to get an idea about the importance of geology; and I tried to get an idea about the complexity of Missions / Analog Missions to Mars. Of course I knew that there is a robot on Mars, studying the planet…but I never had an idea about, how complex curiosity is, how many different instruments it contains and how many different scientists are involved to realise such Missions.
In February I had the chance to join the Amadee-18 Analog Mission, as a part of the RSS-Team (Remote Science Support Team). It was a great experience and helped me, to understand the importance of an Exploration Cascade. After the mission I finished my thesis and developed an Exploration Cascade, based on the experiments and instruments used during the mission in Oman.
In May I got the chance to join the Amadee-18 Science Workshop in Graz. There I had my first presentation beyond the lecture hall of my university. Of course I was super nervous, but in the end I was super happy and proud of my work :-)
The developing process of my thesis at the ÖWF was a great experience. I had the chance to meet and work together with great people from different scientific sectors and learned how important interdisciplinary science is.
Author: Stefanie Garnitschnig
- Humans to Mars Report 2018 released
- Austrian Space Forum successfully concludes Mars analog mission on glacier
- AMADEE-18 Mars simulation provided important insights into the future of Mars exploration
- Space Operations Conference 2018: We bring the Mars into MARSeille
- AMADEE-18 Science Workshop: Debating. Analysing. And all for Mars.
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