We’ve been following former astronaut Scott Parazynski’s attempt to climb Mt. Everest, and now comes the news that he has successfully reached the summit, one year after a back injury forced him to give up his climb. “It was a wonderful experience, though and through,” Parazynski said in a Skype interview with Miles O’Brien, “and certainly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, both physically and mentally.” Parazynski brought several objects with him to the world’s highest summit, including rocks from the Moon, and remembrances of fallen astronauts. Parazynski is the first astronaut to summit Mt. Everest.
During the climb, Parazynski was doing research. “We’ll be collecting data for astrobiologists, looking for extremophile life,” Parazynski told Universe Today in an interview before he left for Mt. Everest. “If you understand how extremophiles live, you might be able to understand how life may have once evolved on Mars, or may still exist on Mars.”
Parazynski tested NASA-derived hardware, taking along a prototype lunar geology camera and other hardware for extreme environments. “Up high on the mountain there are limestone formations, which are wonderful places to look for fossilized life,” he said,” and we’ll also look for melt water and primitive forms of life there; algae lichens, etc. If liquid water exists even for brief periods on Mars it may be in similar conditions to what we’ll find on Mt. Everest. We hope to bring samples back for scientists to look at.”
Now that he has successfully reached the summit, Parazynski said he won’t return to Everest. “Once is enough,” he said, adding that his family is glad he now has the bug to climb Everest out of his system.
Check out all the videos of Parazynski’s climb at Miles O’Brien’s blog at True/ Slant, as well as more images from Keith Cowing at On Orbit.com. Congratulations to Scott Parazynski!
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And I just had to share this image of Parazynski on the summit after the sun rose. It looks just like Luke Skywalker on the planet Hoth at the beginning of “The Empire Strikes Back.”
Look for an upcoming special on the Discovery channel about Parazynski’s climb.