(June 13, 2002, Gazette)
Dr. Roberta Bondar has never been afraid to ask why
and her curiosity led her to earn a PhD and a medical degree as well as
become one of Canadas first astronauts and the first Canadian woman
On May 24, at Discovery Days in Health Sciences, a group of high school
students heard about Dr. Bondars adventures in space. Discovery Days
is an event held to promote awareness in health sciences among young people.
About 100 students were selected from those who applied through their schools
to attend the day, which also included hands-on workshops and a career panel.
In space, were just as fragile as we are down here, said
Dr. Bondar, a neurologist whose role on the space shuttle Discovery in1992
was to study how the human body reacted to weightlessness and the growth
of plants without gravity. Some of the problems in space include feeling
nauseous in the first 48 hours. And what happens if your nose gets itchy
in a space suit? We came up with a velcro strip for that problem. Another
problem we had to figure out was how much nutrition is needed you
can eat 3,000 calories a day in space and still lose weight.
Dr. Bondar said that what is true on the ground is not true in space. In
space we lose all the reflexes we have in gravity, for example putting out
our arms to break a fall. For every day up, an astronaut needs a day back
Born in 1945, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Dr. Bondar noted that she was
born before anything had left the Earth. She encouraged the high school
students to pursue careers they enjoy. For her, that has been medicine.
As a doctor, you can do anything. Medicine opens the key to the world
its not just about helping other people, but helping yourself.
Dr. Roberta Bondar has received numerous honours and awards, including Officer
of the Order of Canada, a NASA Space Medal and induction into the Canadian
Medical Hall of Fame.
Discovery Days in Health Sciences was sponsored by Pfizer Canada and the
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.