European Space Agency astronaut
Born in Künzelsau, Germany, on 3 May 1976. His favourite sports are fencing, swimming and running. He especially enjoys outdoor activities including skydiving, snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, climbing and scuba diving.
Graduated from the Technical High School in Öhringen, Germany, in 1995.
In 2003, Gerst received a diploma in geophysics from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, and a master's degree in earth sciences from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Both degrees were awarded with distinction.
In 2010 he graduated with a Doctorate in Natural Sciences at the Institute of Geophysics of the University of Hamburg, Germany, following his dissertation on geophysics and volcanic eruption dynamics.
Member of the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI), the German Geophysical Society (DGG), the European Geosciences Union (EGU), the European Volcanological Society (SVE) and the American Geophysical Union (AGU).
During his school education, Gerst volunteered as a boy scout leader, fire-fighter and water rescue lifeguard. As a student, between 1998 and 2003, he participated in various international scientific collaborations and field experiments. Several of these led him to remote locations in Antarctica and on other continents, where he installed various scientific instruments.
From 2001 to 2003, in the frame of research for his master’s thesis on a volcano in New Zealand, Gerst developed a new volcano monitoring technique that might one day improve the ability to forecast volcanic eruptions. Results of that study were published in Science Magazine.
Gerst worked on the development of scientific instruments as a scientist at the Institute of Geophysics at the University of Hamburg between 2004 and 2009.
From 2005 to 2009, whilst at the Institute of Geophysics, he also worked towards his doctorate, for which he investigated volcanic eruption dynamics on active volcanoes. The main goal of his research was to determine the mechanics and the energy release during the first seconds of a volcanic eruption. His research led him to visit volcanoes on all continents, concentrating on an active volcano in Antarctica that is used as an outdoor laboratory. In 2007, Gerst received the Bernd Rendel award for outstanding research from the German Research Foundation (DFG).
Gerst was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. He joined ESA in September 2009 and successfully completed Astronaut Basic Training in November 2010.
In September 2011, Gerst was assigned to fly to the International Space Station on a 6-month mission in 2014, serving as a flight engineer for Expeditions 40 and 41. He will launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in May 2014, returning to Earth in November 2014. During his mission, he will conduct a comprehensive research programme including a wide variety of European and international science experiments.
Last update: 13 January 2012