Women have always had an active role in the expansion of scientific thought and are usually the backbone of every scientific exploration. This year, a woman made history for being one of the two all-female spacewalking teams of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). For 40-year-old Jessica Meir, her successful spacewalk is not only a historic moment for women but Jews as well. She posted pictures she captured of Israel from the International Space Station and dedicated it to her father.


Before becoming an astronaut, Jessica Meir is a biologist. She specializes in the physiology of animals in extreme environments. She is among the eight members of the American Space Agency's class of 2013, and one of her lifelong dreams is to become an astronaut, to be among the 46 women and 12 American Jews who have successfully tread the orbit.

For as long as she can remember, she wanted to be an astronaut. She remembers her experience back in first grade when their teacher asked the class to draw what they wanted to be when they grow up, and she drew a picture of an astronaut in a spacesuit standing on the surface of the moon. She says she owes her inspiration to become an astronaut to the bright night sky of rural Maine, where she grew up.


As she grows up, Jessica Meir never outgrew her love for space or her yearning to become an astronaut. She attended space camp and experienced NASA's zero-gravity simulator as an undergraduate student at Brown University. Later on, she would go work for Lockheed Martin's Human Research Facility at NASA's Johnson Space Center, where she is a part of the team doing human physiology research on the space shuttle and the ISS.

Jessica Meir then participated in research flights and served in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) as an aquanaut crew member in the Aquarius Underwater Habitat. She then completed her doctorate in marine biology specializing in diving physiology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego. 

Along with Christina Koch, they made history for being the first all-female team to go to the International Space Station and repaired a broken part of the power grid. 


Jessica Meir attributes what she is now largely to her parents. Her mother's love for nature and her father's zest in life and wandering. Her late father was born in Baghdad in 1925, and his whole family left Iraq due to being victims of rampant anti-Semitism and settled in Israel in 1931. He studied medicine at the American University of Beirut and returned to Israel in 1948 when the War of Independence broke out. His father gave aid by driving an ambulance during the war. 

When the war was over, Jessica's father went to Geneva in Switzerland to finish his medical degree, where he met Jessica's mother, a Christian-raised nurse. Her parents soon moved to the United States.

This Friday, Jessica posted a photo of Israel captured from the ISS on Twitter with the caption: "My father's globe-spanning journey as a surgeon from the Middle East, to Europe, and eventually to the U.S. was an inspiration to many in my immediate and extended family."