International Women's Day

Today is International Women's Day -- a day set aside to honor the achievements of women, past and present, from around the globe. This got me thinking about all of the great women in the space community, so I posed the question on Twitter: Who are the women in the space community that have inspired you?

There have been some great responses. Here is a listing of the suggestions so far:

Jill Tarter, Director of the Center for SETI Research. Beyond being a brilliant scientist and astronomer, her work was featured in Carl Sagan's book, "Contact", and the protagonist in the film was based on her. How cool is that?

Vera Rubin, astronomer. A pioneer for her work on galaxy rotation rates (via @womanastronomer and @dmasten)

Svetlana Savitskaya, Russian cosmonaut. The first woman ever to perform a space walk -- in 1984! She also set 18 international world records on MiG aircraft. Impressive.  (via @jimmic)

Space/NASA Twitterati -- @BethBeck, @kennicosmith, @flyingjenny,  @VeronicaMcG@jhjones, @txflygirl, @CatherineQ, @iamjem, @absolutspacegrl, @arielwaldman (,  and @rocketshadow (XCOR) all received mentions for the great work they do in sharing the excitement of space with others!

Esther Dyson, journalist, philanthropist, entrepreneur. She has invested in XCOR, Zero-G, and Space Adventures, and trained as a back-up spaceflight participant to Charles Simonyi. (via @chris_radcliff)

Samantha Cristoforetti, first Italian woman astronaut. (via @amoroso)

Sally Ride, physicist, astronaut. The first American woman to go to space. (via @dmasten)

Eileen Collins, astronaut. First female pilot and first female commander of the Space Shuttle (via @womanastronomer)

Anousheh Ansari, entrepreneur and spaceflight participant. The first female private space explorer and the first Iranian astronaut. Not to mention the sponsor of the very first X PRIZE! (via @ageekmom and @nearvanna)

Shannon Lucid, biochemist and astronaut. Spent many weeks aboard Mir, held the record for the longest stay in space by a woman (until 2007). (via @ageekmom)

Judy Resnik, engineer and astronaut. The second American woman to go to space, and was sadly lost in the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986. (via @spionchen)

Christa McAuliffe, educator and astronaut. "I touch the future. I teach."As @ageekmom commented on Twitter, "we lost her too soon" in the Challenger accident.

Peggy Whitson, biochemistry researcher and astronaut. NASA's most experienced astronaut with 376 days spent in space! Amazing. She was also the first commander of the International Space Station twice. (via @txflygirl and @jimcook310)

Mae Jemison, physician and astronaut. She was the first African American woman in space, and is still active in promoting STEM education. (via @absolutspacegrl and @nearvanna)

Early aviation pioneers Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman -- awesome suggestions from @txflygirl.

Loretta Hidalgo-Whitesides, astrobiologist and space advocate. Founder of Yuri's Night. (via @nearvanna)

The Mercury 13 (suggested by @txflygirl) and specifically Jerrie Cobb, the first woman to pass NASA astronaut training (from @absolutspacegrl)

Dr. June Scobee Rogers, educator. Widow of Dick Scobee (commander of Challenger STS-51-L). Became the founder of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. (via @ageekmom)

Vanna Bonta, actress, novelist, poet, and inventor of 2suit. Also a member of Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander X PRIZE Challenge team BonNova. (via @the2suit)

Pam Melroy (aka "Pambo"), ret. Air Force officer, astronaut. Flew on STS-120 as the 2nd-ever female Space Shuttle commander. (via @jimcook310)

Barbara Morgan, teacher and astronaut. Barbara was Christa McAuliffe's backup for the Teacher in Space program, and eventually flew on STS-118 as NASA's first educator-astronaut to space. (via @jimcook310 and @ageekmom)

Valentina Tereshkova, cosmonaut. First woman in space in 1963. (via @absolutspacegrl)

Ellen Ochoa, engineer and astronaut. First Hispanic woman in space. Current deputy director of the NASA Johnson Space Center. (via @absolutspacegrl)

Some of the earliest pioneers in science and space: Hypatia of Alexandria - one of the first women scientists (370 - 415), Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) devised maps of the universe, and Caroline Herschel, first woman appointed to Court Astronomer, and discoverer of comets in the 1800's. Thanks for the historical perspective, @nearvanna!

Inspirational women currently working in the space industry for @DariaT are Dr. Cynthia Null, Human Factors guru at NASA Ames Research Center and Laurie Leshin, deputy director for science and technology at NASA.

Poppy Northcutt, mathematician, NASA flight controller. The only woman working in Mission Control at the time of the Apollo 13 emergency.  (via @absolutspacegrl)

Kalpana Chawla and Laurel Clark, NASA astronauts lost in the STS-107 Columbia accident. Kalpana was the first Indian-born woman to fly in space.  (via matthewhoey and @absolutspacegrl)

On a side note, @absolutspacegrl pointed out the @STEMinist Twitter account, which provides great links and stories about women in science, tech, engineering, and math, and a "Profiles of Frontierswomen" website.

Are there others would you like to add? Feel free to comment here, or @-reply us on Twitter.

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