ESA title
Marjo Järvinen
Science & Exploration

Marjo Part 1: A great challenge

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Research

My name is Marjo Järvinen. I am 30 years old. I am from Asikkala in southern Finland which is about 120 km from Helsinki. Right now I am living in London where I'm organising a big international conference taking place in the Netherlands in October 2005.

A friend came across the article about WISE in a newspaper and thought I might be interested – they said it was something that would fit me, that I am crazy enough to do it! That was in September 2004. I applied right away, but did a lot of thinking afterwards “what if I actually get accepted?”

I’ve always been interested in science, especially astronomy, being part of a programme where science is being done sounded like a unique opportunity and a good way to get an inside look at my hobby.

I’ve done many interesting things before (8-month trip around the world, 10-day meditation course, climbing to the top of the world’s highest active volcano - 5900m - without training, paragliding, scuba diving, fasting for 6 days… just to give some examples). This sounded like another great challenge to meet in my quest of my personal limits, adventurous, demanding and different.

It also seemed like to good opportunity to take a break from quite a hectic life and to think things over.

I didn’t really have any doubts about taking part (except when systematically everyone else said they would never do it!), but I did wonder what it would be like, if I’d get pains all over my body and if I could resist the temptation of getting up.

First visit to Toulouse

Just one week after sending off my application, I received a phone call from a doctor at MEDES inviting me to Toulouse for the medical check-up.

Arriving at the centre in Toulouse, the staff I met was lovely. I felt very good immediately and thought that I would actually really want to be part of this experience. I loved the view out of the windows (the whole city of Toulouse!), the rooms had just been painted yellow and they seemed cosy despite being empty except for two beds and a wardrobe. The inclination of the bed surprised me “is 6% this much…?? Wow…I did not think…”

Part of a massive hospital complex, the building itself was of a friendly size. It was very nice to know that the whole programme was run in its own place, not just in one corner of a hospital in the middle of sick people. I definitely wanted to come back for the study! With everything I was told I became more and more interested.

Accepted to take part

I waited for a month and a half to hear that my bone density was enough to carry on with the selection process. After which I returned to Toulouse to be part of the psychological selection. Of the thirteen women in my group, only seven were accepted. Two weeks later I heard I had been accepted (right after New Year 2005). The whole selection process took more than four months from the sending of my application to the news of my acceptation.

The further I got in the selection process, the more I wanted to be part of the study. By the time I was offered a place, I had already done the thinking and accepted the place straightaway.

I prepared for my stay at the centre by thinking about how I would like to spend my time - books, movies, music and learning activities and other things I thought I would like to do. I had an excellent opportunity to finally do things that I had wanted to do for a while but never seemed to have time! I wanted to use my time well.

Everyone around me congratulated me on being accepted to take part, they all seemed happy for me. My family was proud of me and supported me – but all my friends and family said they would never do it...

Everyone seems to think it is very difficult to do, stay in bed for 60 days voluntarily, where as I think it was in fact a piece of cake, way easier than I thought and the time truly flied!

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