National Geographic Explorer and Space Architect, Constance Adams dies

A woman, with a great passion for knowledge of the solar system and the Earth, a pioneer in her field, died at the age of 53. Constance Adams had been fighting against cancer when she finally gave away on June 24.

Adams is mainly known for her projects in supporting explorations in space and solar system led by humans. She worked in building up systems for space travelers to aid their journey through the unknown dark world. Though she majorly designed various methods, she had a particular interest in the knowledge gained from space explorations and how it could help our planet.

This gifted space architect was awarded the National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2005. The Emerging Explorer program involves honoring researchers, scientists, astronauts and others in their distinct disciplines for making significant achievements and breakthroughs in a particular field. As for Adams, space architecture was the field of her excellence. Her noteworthy developments include the “sociokinetic” research, in which she discovered how different individuals communicate with their built environments and with each other.

Adams faced a problem while designing space-like atmospheres on Earth. It was deducting how to keep humans oriented in a microgravity environment with no natural “up” or “down.” Because space habitats can often make the inhabitants feel sick in the stomach. 

As she said, “You take gravity out of the equation, and everything goes kablooey.” She said that it was important for astronauts to act generally during their explorations in space when one of the major components (gravity) of their natural environment is gone.

She pursued her Master’s degree at Yale University, after which she worked at various places like Berlin and Tokyo before receiving an offer from NASA. She was assigned a project to build a prototype surface habitat for Mars.“How could I not want to design for space?” she said an interview with Harvard Magazine in 2011.

She designed various space equipment and architectures like a crew-return vehicle, two Mars-surface habitats, a transit spacecraft for planetary exploration, and a next-generation space shuttle for which she won several awards and recognition.

Adams was a big believer of in community outreach, particularly in joining other female explorers to increase awareness around science and encourage young women to pursue paths in the STEM. She represented the society of explorers externally in various ways, including through educational programming. 

While her work often focused on space, Adams’ abiding love of the Earth led her to fight for a better future, even if that meant making one small change at a time.