Astronaut

Where Were You That Day?

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By Lina Younes

There are historic events that become engrained in our collective memories. I’m talking about those events that, even decades later, you remember exactly what you were doing when you first heard the news. Some of these events like the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the Challenger disaster, or September 11 obviously are linked to tragedies. However, there was particular event that captivated the world because of its magnitude and significance. Nearly half a century later, that one occurrence, that one step launched us into a new era of science, technology and exploration. What is the significant event that I’m referring to? The first lunar landing.

With the recent passing of former astronaut, Neil Armstrong, many of us shared our thoughts on the passing of this great American. For those of us who witnessed that moment in history, discussions via social media allowed us to share those recollections of how we experienced the first landing on the moon. Where were we? What were we doing at the time? Did we fully understand the significance of the moment? It was interesting to note that even Neil Armstrong who is described by many as a humble and reluctant hero did not classify that momentous occasion as a feat just for the United States, but as “a giant leap for mankind.”

As I’ve stated in previous blog entries, space exploration has opened a new world of science and technology that has benefitted us here on Earth, yet we take for granted. Did you know that NASA satellites opened a new world of communications that facilitated innovations in the mobile technologies of today? How about innovations in Earth sciences to analyze the quality of our air and other natural resources? Did you know that materials developed by NASA scientists have contributed to green technologies like solar panels? Did you know that technology developed as a result of the space program has also contributed to the development of better prothstetics and robotics used in medicine for the benefit of all mankind? These are just some of the positive outcomes of the space program that are only made possible by investing in science and technology. These successes are only possible if more students study science, technology, engineering and math. I’m sure there is another Neil Armstrong or Sally Ride within our midst who will open the door to new worlds. The stars are the limit!

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Thank You, Sally, For Reaching To The Stars

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By Lina Younes

There is no doubt that being “the first” at something is often newsworthy. For example, being the first to reach the finish line or being the first to set a world record. However, how many times being “the first” is truly historic? Such is the case of some women who were true trailblazers in their fields.

Who are some of these women who made history through their achievements in the sciences? How about Marie Curie, the first woman to earn a Nobel Prize? In fact, to this date Marie Curie is the only woman to have earned two Nobel Prizes, the first in Physics in 1903 and in Chemistry in 1911.

Have you heard of Ellen Swallow Richards, a prominent 19th century industrial and environmental chemist in the United States? Ms. Richards had many firsts throughout her life. She was the first woman admitted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the first woman in America to earn a degree in chemistry and the first to coin the term “ecology” in 1892.

And today, I would like to mention another great woman who made her mark in the history books by becoming the first American women to fly in space in 1983. Sally K. Ride,  she was the first woman and youngest person to fly aboard the space shuttle. After she left NASA in 1987, she became a professor of physics at the University of California and directed the University of California’s California Space Institute.

While Dr. Ride earned numerous accolades in the public and private sector, education was one of her passions. So she founded her own company in 2001, Sally Ride Science,  to motivate girls and women to pursue careers in science, math, and technology.

Just yesterday, this inspiring woman lost a battle to pancreatic cancer. Yet, her life continues to be an inspiration to many in the United States and throughout the world. Thank you, Sally, for teaching us to reach for the stars. May you rest in peace.

About the author: Lina Younes is the Multilingual Outreach and Communications Liaison for EPA. Among her duties, she’s responsible for outreach to Hispanic organizations and media. She spearheaded the team that recently launched EPA’s new Spanish website, www.epa.gov/espanol . She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. She’s currently the editor of EPA’s new Spanish blog, Conversando acerca de nuestro medio ambiente. Prior to joining the agency, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and an international radio broadcaster. She has held other positions in and out of the Federal Government.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.