8. Christina Hammock Koch
As one of the most recent astronaut candidates, Christina Hammock Koch has not yet launched into space. However, her career may take her to places previously unvisited in person by humans, including, perhaps, Mars.
Koch doubled majored in physics and electrical engineering at North Carolina State University. From there, she got a masters degree in electrical engineering at the same university. During her career, Koch has focused on both developing space science instruments and field engineering in remote, often hostile locations.
This means that she’s worked at locations such as the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, as well as at Palmer Station, another Antarctic outpost. She’s also served as a field engineer at a NOAA observatory in Barrow, Alaska, and as Station Chief at the American Samoa Observatory. She has spent many winter seasons near both the north and south poles, including Palmer Station and the Summit Station in Greenland.
After her acceptance into the astronaut program in 2013, Koch trained for two years. During her training, Koch took instruction in a wide and sometimes heinously complex series of subjects, including robotics, physical training, flight training, and wilderness survival. She’s now qualified for future assignments, which may very well include a future mission to the moon or Mars.