Defying gravity: NASA astronaut and NY native to capture solar eclipse from space

A New Yorker will have the best seat in our solar system during the eclipse on Monday.

Bianca Rosembert

Apr 5, 2024, 1:54 AM

Updated 55 days ago

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A New Yorker will have the best seat in our solar system during the eclipse on Monday.
Syracuse native Dr. Jeanette Epps will be one of the many scientists gathering data and snapping pictures of the phenomenon from the International Space Station.
Dr. Epps and a crew of astronauts embarked on a Space X mission in March 2024.
"You would have heard four people scream like we were on an amusement park ride. It was amazing and it was very surreal," said Dr. Epps, in an interview with Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday.
Her journey to space was a long trip in the making. She and her twin were just 9 years old when their older brother pointed out their stellar grades, and pushed Epps in a path toward aerospace engineering.
The future NASA astronaut attended Thomas J. Corcoran High School in Syracuse.
She has a Bachelor of Science in physics from LeMoyne College and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.
Little did she know her career would soar passed an aerospace engineering career on Earth.
She was selected to be an astronaut by NASA in 2009.
Photo credit: NASA
Astronaut Jessica Watkins was the first Black female long-duration flyer in 2022, according to space.com - and Epps is the second.
Now, she will be one of few Americans and Black women to see the total eclipse of the sun from space.
"I realized over my career how many young ladies don't really believe that this is something for them or something that they can do. They think they don't have the right stuff to become an astronaut. But I'm here to tell them that we all do. And it all depends on the work and the time and the effort that you put in; as well as the desire," said Dr. Epps.
Epps said she is about 260 miles above the earth's surface with a bird's eye view of New York, including the Finger Lakes region.
The crew at the space station will have eclipse glasses like everyone on earth but she said she will be focused on capturing rare photos.
From their vantage point, they will see the shadow as it passes the Earth.
After the eclipse, her crew will get back to serving as the "eyes and hands" of scientists on Earth.
They are gathering experimental data on things like neuro-inflammation, how things burn in space and the "Thigh Cuff" experiment which explores how body pressure changes in space.
Her research on the solar eclipse is just one of the ways Dr. Epps is defying gravity.


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