The machine whipped me up and down, around and around.

I’m in training for a big adventure.

My “Boarding Pass” reads:

“NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Boarding Pass Mars 2020

Jean A. Moultrie

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, Air Force Station Florida, Earth

Arrival Site: Jezero Crater, Mars

Rocket: Atlas V-541

Scheduled Departure: July 2020

Award Points Earned: 313,586,649 mi”

“Let me off this contraption,” I hollered to the equipment operator. “I can’t stand anymore.”

The operator stopped the ride, helped me unbuckle my belt and climb off the wooden horse.

“Listen, lady,” said the operator. “If you can’t handle being on a merry-go-round, stay off the ride.”

Unfortunately for me, I seem to have inherited a propensity for motion sickness — not a good attribute for space travel. I’ve experienced motion sickness on the following: car rides, bus, ferry, canoe, sailing vessel, aircraft, whale-watching boat, playground swing, summersaulting down a grassy slope (as a kid) and carnival rides.

Fortunately, I travel to space vicariously. My name, etched on a microchip along with a few million other names, will soar into space toward Mars. I’ll watch the news broadcast with a bowl of popcorn. With my training, I won’t experience motion sickness at blast-off while perched on a sofa.

Per NASA, the “launch period for Mars opens on July 17, 2020. It will land on Mar’s Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.” I’ll check periodically for progress reports.

In the meantime, I check on the Mars Curiosity Rover and the latest selfies taken while doing research.

Next, I turn my attention to the International Space Station and the astronaut broadcasts where they share experiences in space. A NASA chart shows when and how to locate the space station, the “third brightest object” in the sky near sunset or sunrise. For my location, I entered the area of John Day, Oregon, in the “Spot the Station” sign in.

During the time I searched, the Space Station was noted to be visible without telescope at Canyon City, Prairie City and the John Day Fossil Beds. On another day or when visiting someone, I enter the location and search for when and where the space station is visible.

To soar through space seems adventurous.

I prefer staying on planet earth and Grant County where the county road caution sign lists “Wildlife for 40 miles.”

I discovered ways to “soar”:

Vicariously through the study of space travel,

Photographing birds in flight,

Helping a child read and learn about space.

The deadline is ended for submitting a name for this Mars exploration.

I signed up for the notification when the list opens for the next Mars mission.

For great winter and summer activities learning about NASA research, including past and future space missions with sections for students, educators and the general public, visit

The author is a freelance writer in Grant County. She’s requesting books about space and a telescope from Santa, if possible. Or bird feeders and bird-watching binoculars.

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