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The story of eight women who conquered the "unknown" – a session promoted by INESC TEC at the Glex Summit

Under the scientific coordination of Ana Pires, INESC TEC researcher, the SOE'24 event - Space, Ocean, and Earth Insights – returned to the stage of the Glex Summit, the world's largest summit in the field of space exploration. This year, the SOE focused on "Women in Exploration: Breaking Boundaries", challenging eight women to share their stories and how they have conquered the "unknown".

27th June 2024

Ana Pires, Yvette Gonzalez, Nicole Mann, Beatriz Flamini, Tess Caswell, Sabrina Thompson, Kirstin Schulz, Fatma Kaplan. These are the names of the eight women who, on the stage of the Glex Summit, shared the way they have, throughout their lives, set out to discover Space, the Ocean and the Earth, contributing to the advancement of science and technology, in each of their fields.

"This year's theme focused on the role of women in exploration, and the way they have been making a significant contribution to science and technology, shaping our understanding of the Universe and driving innovation in all domains. We brought together a group of extraordinary women with inspiring stories", said Ana Pires.

With different careers, from astronomy to marine biology, engineering or extreme sports, the speakers showcased their paths. The participants of the session were able to witness several testimonies: the story of the first Indigenous woman to travel to space (Nicole Mann); the experience of spending 500 days in a cave (Beatriz Flamini); the trip to the North Pole (Kirstin Schulz); the development of innovative and inclusive flight suits to use in space and on Earth (Sabrina Thompson); or the research work with nematodes on an international space station (Fatma Kaplan).

The event also focused on past analog missions, namely the work behind NASA's Artemis mission (Tess Caswell), and the CAMões Mission - the first Portuguese analog mission, which took place in late 2023, in Gruta do Natal (Terceira Island, Azores), led by INESC TEC. Still concerning the CAMões initiative, Gonçalo Ricarte received an award for winning the competition to design an educational patch for students aged 3 to 17.

"This event was an excellent opportunity to get to know people who have been continuously contributing to the search for knowledge, and to the creation of a future in which science and exploration - whether of the Earth, Space or the Ocean - know no borders", concluded the researcher. During her presentation, Ana Pires emphasised the empowerment of women in science, and the capacity-building of emerging nations - like Portugal - within the space industry.

The 2024 edition of SOE also included a sensory experience at Gruta do Algar do Carvão, on Terceira Island, with poems by Yvette Gonzalez, and music by Ana Pires and the Choir Padre Tomás de Borba - Academia Musical da Ilha Terceira (AMIT). Mara Leite and Marc Bluhm also inaugurated a photography exhibition about the CAMões mission: "Unveiling the Depths: Photographic Odyssey of a Cave Lunar Analog Mission", at the headquarters of the Associação Os Montanheiros in Angra do Heroísmo - also supported by INESCTEC and GLEX.


The Glex Summit – Global Exploration Summit - took place between June 18 and 19, in Angra do Heroísmo, Azores. On June 15, the city of Porto hosted the GLEX Ignition Session.

*Photo from Mara Leite