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UNC Marine Science alumna Zena Cardman returned to UNC during the Fall 2019 research week to talk about her time at NASA. Cardman joined NASA as part of their 2017 Astronaut Candidate class. Now, Cardman has the potential to be part of the Artemis mission, aiming to put the first woman on the moon.

Zena Cardman NASA astronaut candidate profile pictureWhile on campus she talked about her research as an undergraduate and how that was a big part of her education. While at UNC she took part in research in Antarctica and the Arctic and she explained how this is what inspired her to apply for the NASA program. Saying, “I loved the science aspect of it, but I also really loved the operational side and the logistics and how many people it takes to put something like that together. To me, working on the space station is the ultimate field research endeavor.”

Read more about Cardman’s speech on campus at


While in Chapel Hill Cardman spoke with WUNC on their segment “The State of Things” to discuss her time at Carolina and being a member of NASA’s astronaut training program. She spoke about the poetry of outer space along with her transition from scientist to astronaut, her current astronaut training, and what she expects for the future in NASA’s astronaut program.

You can listen to the whole interview at


The Daily Tar Heel also got a chance to speak with Cardman about her path to NASA and what she is currently working on as an astronaut candidate.

You can



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