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August 3, 2004


NASA Astronauts Participating in Science Workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole

WOODS HOLE, MA—Four NASA astronauts are currently studying at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) as part of a workshop which is aimed at providing science background and laboratory training to astronauts for future missions on the International Space Station, the Moon, and eventually Mars.

The goal of the pilot program is to enable the astronauts to play a new role in in-flight science. Currently astronauts get only 13 hours of science training.  This workshop increases this training to 150-180 hours.  Instead of just performing experiments as they are told; workshop participants will be able to look at the data, interpret it, and serve as scientific collaborators. "The current [astronaut] participation is at the operator level, not at the contributor level,” says Dr. Daniel Barry, NASA Astronaut and Workshop Director.  “It is important to train astronauts in scientific method and looking at data and interpreting it.  This is the first step toward increasing scientific curiosity in space."

NASA’s organizers chose the MBL as the workshop location for several reasons—NASA’s Center for Advanced Studies in the Space Life Sciences is located at the Laboratory, NASA is the third largest funder of MBL grants, and, perhaps most importantly, the MBL is a place where the world’s top biologists can focus on their research, not distracted by departmental affairs, committee work, or other aspects of university life. The MBL provides both the resource support and the intellectual environment that enables many scientists to do their best work. “I couldn't think of a better place in the world for this,” says Barry.  “The MBL draws world-class scientists and they are accessible and willing to collaborate.”
  • WHO: NASA Astronauts Participating in Scientific Training Workshop
  • WHEN: Thursday, August 5, 11:00-11:30 AM
  • WHERE: Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA - Lillie Building, Room 103
  • WHAT: Opportunity to speak with astronauts about their training experience at the MBL and discuss what impact this may have on their future space missions.  Photo opportunity of astronauts in the lab of Dr. Norman Wainwright, MBL Senior Scientist.

Additional information on the program and participant biographies can be found at: http://www.mbl.edu/CASSLS/sehe.htm


The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, dedicated to improving the human condition through basic research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. MBL hosts research programs in cell and developmental biology, ecosystems studies, molecular biology and evolution, neurobiology, behavior, global infectious diseases and sensory physiology. Its intensive graduate-level educational program is renowned throughout the life sciences. The MBL is the oldest private marine laboratory in the western hemisphere.