POSTPONED: Astronaut alumna to chat with Brown students from space

Jessica Meir will answer questions from Brown students and community members during a live video downlink from the International Space Station.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to a change in Jessica Meir's space walk schedule, the downlink event has been postponed until later in Meir's mission. Brown will announce a new event date as soon as it is available. Meir's first space walk, which she will perform with crewmate Christina Koch, is now scheduled take place no earlier than 7:50 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 18 and will be the first all-female space walk in history. The duo will venture outside the International Space Station to replace a power controller that failed over the weekend. The crew is safe as science and maintenance operations continue normally on the orbiting lab, according to a NASA statement. The space walk can be watched live on NASA's website, and updates on the schedule will be available on the ISS website.

PROVIDENCE R.I. [Brown University] — NASA astronaut and Brown University alumna Jessica Meir, who is currently orbiting Earth aboard the International Space Station, will chat live with Brown students and members of the greater community via a video downlink on Friday, Oct. 18. 

The event, part of Brown’s Family Weekend and as well as the University’s yearlong celebration of the Open Curriculum’s 50th anniversary, will take place at 4 p.m. in the Solomon Center for Teaching. Tickets are required and are available online at no cost. The event will also be streamed live via the University’s website.

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown's Open Curriculum, Jessica is an inspirational example of how intentional exploration and active partnerships on campus help prepare our alumni for lives of usefulness and reputation,” said Rashid Zia, dean of the College. “We are proud that Jessica can share her story directly with our students, family and alumni as we gather to celebrate our purpose-driven approach to undergraduate education.”

Meir blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25. During her six-month mission, her first trip to space, Meir and her crewmates will oversee hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory. This week, Meir and crewmate Christina Koch are scheduled to make the first all-female space walk in history. [Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated that the spacewalk would take place on October 21. NASA has updated its mission schedule, and the space walk is now scheduled for 7:50 a.m. on either October 17 or 18.]

Meir graduated from Brown in 1999 with a B.A. in biology before earning her Ph.D. in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. From 2000 to 2003, Meir worked at NASA’s Johnson Space Center supporting human physiology research on the space shuttle and International Space Station. She was selected as an astronaut in 2013. 

During the Oct. 18 event, Zia and Brown professor Jim Head will highlight the University’s long history of involvement in space exploration. Head worked with NASA on the Apollo missions to the Moon, helping to select landing sites, train astronauts in geology and analyze returned lunar samples. Since then, Brown faculty members have been involved in numerous missions to the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Venus and elsewhere. Recently, Brown students and faculty played a key role in the selection of Jezero Crater as the landing site for the next Mars rover

Once the downlink is successfully established, Meir will then answer questions from Brown students and community members and be visible via video screen in the event space. Attendees can submit questions in advance via an online form for Meir to answer live during the event.

Due to the nature of the event — Meir’s mission aboard the ISS as well as the technological challenges that might unexpectedly arise in communicating from space — the event’s date and time are subject to change.