The ad astra vita project
The ad astra vita project (“the Project”) was founded by Dr Rowena Christiansen in early 2020. “ad astra vita” translates from the Latin as “taking life to the stars”.
What are the “space life sciences“?
NASA’s definition: “The space life sciences study interactions between living organisms and characteristics of the space environment. These studies specifically address the structure and function of living organisms in space and interdependent relationships of organisms with each other and/or the space environment while also touching on the origin, evolution and potential for extraterrestrial life.”
As a physician and educator who is passionate about space exploration and the good health and wellbeing of humans in the space environment, Rowena realised that at present across the space medicine and life sciences (“SMLS”) sector much great work is being carried on in ‘silos’, and there is no website that people can visit to find out more about people and organisations who are actively involved with, or have an interest in, space health/SMLS.
There was also no umbrella organisation through which individual people could post their credentials and offer their services to be involved with local or international space health/SMLS projects.
As a result of working in pre-hospital medicine and mentoring medical students, Rowena became aware that there is a thirst for knowledge about human physiology and medicine in austere and extreme environments and information about related organisations, conferences and educational opportunities.
The ad astra vita project has been established to turn these three identified infrastructure weaknesses into opportunities that have the potential to benefit all Australians engaged with space health/SMLS and our international partners and collaborators.
Initially the work of building these three knowledge and information databases is being done on a voluntary basis, and the ad astra vita project is a philanthropic not-for-profit organisation. Although the consultancy arm has the potential to link team members with paid employment, the Project itself will not gain any financial advantage from this. There are no fees payable for inclusion in the Showcase Compendium or the Consultancy Team.
The ad astra vita project also regards itself as an “open access” organisation, in that anyone is free to contribute information to it, and the only criteria for being listed in the Showcase Compendium or expressing interest in joining the Consultancy Team is a demonstrable interest in space health/SMLS.
It is hoped that, in the longer term, the Project can enter into creative partnerships with those involved in space health/SMLS to produce webinars, podcasts, YouTube talks, and other educational material.
The Project is open to accepting grants, sponsorships or charitable donations to assist its work. Any person or organisation wishing to discuss this possibility should contact the Project’s founder, Dr Rowena Christiansen, via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Rowena Christiansen
The University of Melbourne
See: https://www.spaceconnectonline.com.au/operations/4122-finalists-announced-for-inaugural-australian-space-awards and https://www.spaceconnectonline.com.au/australian-space-awards/winners-and-finalists for more information.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Website credit for image and quotation: https://blog.usaid.gov/2013/04/education-the-most-powerful-weapon/
Image credit: School girls in Sana’a gather for their lesson / Clinton Doggett, USAID (accessed 23 January 2020)