Some people dream of exploring space. Others dream of traversing the ocean floor. Kathryn Sullivan decided she was going to do it all. Sullivan was the first American woman to walk in space and the first woman to dive in the Challenger Deep. She’s, quite literally, seen it all. Meet the former U.S. Navy Officer who made major strides for women and for our country over her expansive and historic career.
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Meet Kathryn Sullivan
Kathryn Sullivan has strong military ties. She was a former U.S. Navy Officer, originally joining as an oceanography officer. She was a lieutenant commander and even had a private pilot’s license in powered and glider aircraft.
But Sullivan had always had an interest in science. This led her to pursue a career as a NASA astronaut, geologist, and oceanographer.
Sullivan received a PhD in Geology from Dalhousie University in 1978. Not too long after receiving her PhD, she began her incredible historic career.
The Universal Explorer
Kathryn Sullivan worked as an astronaut. She was one of the first six women to be sent into space. Out of these six women, she was the first American woman to walk in space. Astronaut Kathryn Sullivan embarked on a total of three space shuttle missions with NASA, but she’s most famous for her initial ascent into space in 1984 on the shuttle Challenger, where she made history with her space walk.
Kathryn Sullivan’s space walk marked incredible progress for women. She was a part of a team that helped pave the way for more women astronauts in a formerly male-dominated career path. The mission was a shuttle support mission.
No one has ascended to space and descended to the depths of the ocean like Kathryn Sullivan. “Astronaut” isn’t the only prestigious title she’s held in her career. Sullivan has also worked as an oceanographer. This is how she became the first woman to descend to the deepest part of the ocean: the Mariana Trench.
From the Highest High to the Lowest Low
Even though the ocean is part of Earth, it’s a whole different world down there. The dark, cold depths of the sea have been studied by oceanographers, but one part of the sea has yet to be thoroughly explored. It also happens to be the deepest part of the ocean: the Mariana Trench.
Where is the Mariana Trench?
The Mariana Trench is located in the Western Pacific Ocean. It’s just off of the Mariana Islands in Guam. The Mariana Trench is the deepest oceanic trench in the world and is home to the deepest points on Earth (one of them being the Challenger Deep).
Kathryn D. Sullivan dove to the Challenger Deep with explorer Victor L. Vescovo 35,853 feet below sea level. That’s around 7 miles beneath the surface. She was able to explore and see different Mariana Trench creatures and was also able to make history by being the first and only person to travel both into space and to the deepest part of our sea.
Kathryn Sullivan has made it to the highest and lowest points possible. She’s made amazing strides forward for women and research. During her long and successful career, she has seen things most people can only dream about. Sullivan has also released a memoir titled, Handprints on Hubble: An Astronaut’s Story of Invention. Sullivan made history and helped pave the way for women in STEM, and she continues to make great contributions to our society today.
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Image: EYOS Expeditions | Enrique Alvarez