First Person to Land on Mars Is Likely to Be a Woman, Head of NASA Says

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A lake of liquid water has been detected by radar beneath the southern polar ice cap of Mars, according to a new study published in the journal Science. (Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center, Arizona State Univ., ESA, INAF. Graphic)

A lake of liquid water has been detected by radar beneath the southern polar ice cap of Mars, according to a new study published in the journal Science. (Credit: USGS Astrogeology Science Center, Arizona State Univ., ESA, INAF. Graphic)

Forget everything you’ve learned about men and Mars.

Chances are the first person to land on the red planet will be a woman, the head of NASA said recently.

Jim Bridenstine was a guest on the science and technology radio show “Science Friday,” when he teased that a woman is “likely to be” the first person on Mars.

The NASA administrator did not identify a specific person, but said women are at the forefront of the agency’s upcoming plans.

Bridenstine responded “absolutely” to a question from a Twitter user who asked whether women will be included in the agency’s next trip to the moon.

In fact, he said the next person on the moon is also likely to be a woman.

“These are great days,” he said.

NASA will also have its first all-female spacewalk at the end of the month, when astronauts Anne McClain and Christina Koch will get to float around in space.

The spacewalk will last about seven hours, according to the NASA website.

Both McClain and Koch were part of the 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women. They came from the second largest applicant pool NASA ever has received — more than 6,100. The most recent class of flight directors was also 50% women, NASA said.

NASA has come a long way since 1978, when the first six women joined NASA’s astronaut corps. Today, women comprise 34% of active NASA astronauts, according to the agency.

“NASA is committed to making sure we have a broad and diverse set of talent and we’re looking forward to the first woman on the moon,” Bridenstine said.

Happy National Women’s Month, indeed.

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