What do a sloth, hamster and the TV programme The Big Bang Theory have in common? They all turn the spotlight on astronauts, the profession in this week’s career memes of the week.
It takes a certain kind of mental and physical fortitude to be an astronaut. Crew on the International Space Station, for example, spend months aboard the orbiting outpost (Cmdr Chris Hadfield has been there since December and he’ll be there until mid-May).
The European Space Agency (ESA) has outlined just what it takes: “The general characteristics expected of applicants include good reasoning capability and memory, concentration, aptitude for spatial orientation and manual dexterity.
“An applicant’s personality should be characterised by high motivation, flexibility, gregariousness, empathy with fellow workers, a low level of aggressiveness and emotional stability. For long-term flights on the space station, ability to work as a team member in an intercultural environment is of high importance.”
The ESA and US space agency NASA require its candidates to pass a strict physical exam and undergo training for conditions and environments astronauts will encounter during launch, in space, and during landing.
ESA and NASA astronauts should also have earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics.