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She played golf on Mars...sort of

April 22, 2015

What is it like to play golf on Mars? Well, no man or woman has yet to take that exceedingly giant leap (with apologies to Neil Armstrong), so for now one can only speculate. Or simulate.

Jocelyn Dunn, a PhD candidate in Purdue University's School of Industrial Engineering and a former college golfer, recently did the simulation.

Dunn is chief scientist on an eight-month, NASA-funded Mars simulation mission on the northern slope of Mauna Loa (elevation 8,000 feet) on the Big Island of Hawaii. She brought with her a 7-iron and a few golf balls and recently donned the space suit and went out and hit some balls.

She won't play again until her mission is complete. But then? "After finishing my PhD, I want to start practicing regularly again and competing in USGA qualifiers," she said, noting the U.S. Women's Amateur is on her radar. "I want to see how good I can get with the maturity that I have now. I believe I will have an inner calm and more steadfast confidence in the midst of competition."

As for her career goals, they're lofty. "I've found my work on this simulated Mars mission deeply interesting and compelling, and consequently intend to apply for NASA's next round of astronaut selection," she said.