Gaitee Hussain ASTRONOMER
INSTITUTION EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY – ESO GARCHING, GERMANY
AGE41
NATIONALITY UNITED KINGDOM

DISCOVER NEW PLANETS

Looking at planets around other stars is a very hot topic at the moment, for obvious reasons. I think everyone has looked up in the sky and wondered, "Are we alone?" So one of the big focuses at the moment in astronomy is to look for other planets around stars that are either like ours or similar to ours where water can be found in liquid form. Because the idea is that if water can be found in liquid form then the planet is habitable and basically it can form life in the same kind of conditions as we know on Earth.

MY PASSION FOR SPACE

I've always been interested in space, I think from the earliest age as soon as I started reading. I've always read science fiction; I was your classic geek as a child. And I really enjoyed the idea of space exploration and astronauts and all of that stuff. And I remember my first computing project at school was to devise a program that basically just catalogued all the space missions and everything they ever did. I was really excited by it. But when I got into astronomy was the first time I actually got to look through a telescope. That was my first year at university, and it was essentially just a transformation. I looked at the craters on the moon, and you get to look through the telescope with your own eyes, which you don't often get to do these days. And it was just spectacular, you felt like this old-fashioned astronomer looking at the night sky, and it was beautiful, it was really beautiful. And I just thought, that's what I want to do.

MY ADVICE TO SPACE GIRLS

I would suggest that you read as much as possible about the area, read what's happening and popular science journals, you don't need to read really heavy stuff. I would suggest that you talk to as many people as you can find who work in the area and around the area because then you find out about all the different options. Because you don't just have to be an astronomer. There are many different places you can work. You can be a lecturer, you can work at a place like ESA where there are many different types of jobs as well, so you can find out where your interests lie and feel your way. I would say: don't restrict yourself. Don't say, "This is what I have to do" and "This is the only path to success". Find out what you're curious about and follow your curiosity, follow your passion.

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photo:
© Martina Cristofani