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Student Marisa Dimperio Hopes ‘The Mars Generation’ Becomes Reality

Monday, December 18, 2017
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Marisa Dimperio, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, was one of a group of potential Mars settlers featured in the Netflix documentary, The Mars Generation, after spending a portion of three summers in simulated space missions at the U.S. Space Camp.

Mechanical engineering student Marisa Dimperio hopes she’s in the right place at the right time as the United States’ space program re-focuses efforts toward returning humans to the moon, and an eventual mission to Mars.

She was one of a group of potential Mars settlers featured in the Netflix documentary, The Mars Generation, after spending a portion of three summers in simulated space missions at the U.S. Space Camp. She attended the film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

The sophomore isn’t bashful about her love of astronomy and space flight, either, as evidenced her social media handle, @thecosmosnerd, and the pink rockets she draws in the bottom right hand corner of her resume--in hopes of attracting interest from potential aerospace companies.

“I love everything about rockets and becoming an astronaut would be my dream job,” she says. “It would allow me to do what I love, while inspiring others to accomplish what others think might be impossible.”

After all, Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell built solid and liquid-fuel rockets during his childhood; Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8, spent much of his youth designing and building model airplanes; and Eileen Collins, the first female Space Shuttle pilot and commander, found inspiration through reading stories of pioneers in science, math and medicine.

Inspired by those space trailblazers, Dimperio has helped build a Super Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance telescope on campus to detect disturbances in a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere (46 to 621 miles above the surface) that is ionized by solar and cosmic radiation. She spends several nights each school year exploring the universe through telescopes at the institute’s Oakley Observatory, as well as being an officer of the student Astronomy Club.

Dimperio also is helping design the aerodynamic shape of the Rose Grand Prix Engineering team’s race car that will compete in collegiate events next spring and summer. With any spare time, she performs on the campus dance team and on stage in drama club shows, and is learning welding skills.

“I’m serious and dedicated to whatever I do. I like learning and exploring new things,” she says.

And, Mars is among her future aspirations. The government’s new space policy directive has formally directed NASA to focus on returning humans to the moon. Then, the aim would be Mars, a planet located 139 million miles from Earth. Any mission is estimated to take at least an eight months, and may not happen until the 2030s.

A photo on Dimperio’s Instagram feed shows her holding a handwritten sign proclaiming: “We Cannot Be ‘The Mars Generation’ Without Going To Mars.”

She adds, “It’s so fascinating that we’re once again looking to test our creative minds and engineering abilities in something that’s really big. The moon is before our very eyes every night. There’s nothing stopping us, except ourselves. Then Mars would be the next step. We have to keep dreaming big.”