Record-breaking NASA astronaut and microbiologist Dr Kate Rubins will be touching down in Aotearoa New Zealand for the first time, and she’ll be visiting Rotorua while she’s here.
Rubins is taking part in a STEM in the Community initiative organised by Tauranga STEM Festival (STEMFest)/STEM Wana Trust).
She will be touring the central North Island, visiting Palmerston North, Taupō, Rotorua, and Tauranga in early January 2023.
Rubins will be starting her tour at Palmerston North’s Te Manawa Museum on Sunday, January 8 with an interactive workshop for families before stopping off at Taupō and Rotorua on Monday, January 9 for a meet-and-greet with young fans of astronomy and science. The tour will culminate in a waterfront ‘Evening Under the Stars’ extravaganza at Tauranga’s Strand on Tuesday, January 10.
Rubins was the first person to sequence DNA in space, successfully sequencing samples of mouse, bacteria, and virus DNA in microgravity.
During her two spaceflight missions, she has logged a total of 300 days in space and conducted four spacewalks.
She was inspired to learn about the stars with her dad, going to local “star-gazing” gatherings and science museums from as early as she could remember.
From the age of six he knew she wanted to be an astronaut, as she has always been fascinated with science and exploring the world - something that has not changed.
STEMFest founder Tia Lush says: “We’re thrilled to be able to welcome Dr Rubins to Aotearoa and introduce her to our STEM-loving tamariki and rangatahi”.
“Our goal for this tour is to bring the opportunity of meeting a real-life NASA astronaut directly to the community, without the barriers of expensive tickets [and] family-unfriendly venues, and outside of the usual big city hubs.
“We hope that with these free engagements, we see a variety of people of all ages and backgrounds who might never have thought they could meet an astronaut feeling inspired to pursue their dreams.
“The success of STEMFest has shown that we are a nation of curious thinkers, and space is another field where Aotearoa New Zealand’s future workforce will need creative problem solvers. We encourage whānau to get along to one of the locations and to bring their curiosity.”
It is free to attend any of the locations, but tickets are required. Go to www.stemfest.nz for more details and free tickets.