Haritina Mogoșanu was born and grew up in Bucharest. She fell in love with the stars at the age of 6, after seeing a diagram of the life cycle of our star, the Sun, in a Romanian dictionary that was so big and heavy she could barely hold with two arms. It was the beginning of a lifetime where she would obsessively turn to space and astronomy.
Her area of expertise is space science communication. She has academic qualifications in horticultural engineering, environmental management, and international security. She also worked ten years as a public servant for New Zealand biosecurity specialising in risk analysis, risk communication, and had an internship at NASA Ames in planetary protection. Her hobbies are stargazing and astrophotography.
Currently, Haritina is the Senior Science Communicator for Museums Wellington, based at Space Place at Carter Observatory.
Haritina is founding board member of Kiwispace and the New Zealand Mars Society.
She is leading the New Zealand Astrobiology Network.
Astronomy and space outreach
Haritina has been blogging about her stargazing adventures and debating “what is life” since 2002. Learning that the Hubble telescope has a star tracker system on board she was inspired to come to New Zealand to see the stars of the Southern Hemisphere, in particular Canopus, which she did, in 2005. She got her first stellar job in August 2005 as a presenter at Carter Observatory where she learned the ropes on an optical Zeiss ZKP-3 planetarium projector. Here, she fell in love this time with the New Zealand night sky, which she believes is the best sky in the world and in 2009, she created New Zealand’s first astrophotography magazine, Milky Way Kiwi, which now morphed into an online platform for analysis of space and astronomy issues and education: www.milky-way.kiwi
Haritina is New Zealand’s Martian.
The first New Zealander to lead an analog mission and train for living on Mars, Haritina took that experience to thousands of students in Wellington and greater area and created and lead other Mars analog missions in New Zealand and abroad and Mars and astrobiology school projects in New Zealand.
She is the first New Zealander to lead a crew at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah (KiwiMars2012). There she undertook analog studies about Mars, which lead to a series of outreach and science projects: Tasmars 2013, World Space Week Mars Mission 2013, Spaceward Bound New Zealand 2015 and Spaceward Bound New Zealand for Youth 2016. In 2018, she lead the one-week Mars immersive project for schools, Synergies in Space.
Haritina is currently leading the development of the New Zealand Astrobiology Strategy which includes a a first outcome an online course for for teachers.
She was nominated for the Wellingtonian of the year award in 2015, awarded the International Year of Astronomy 2009 certificate of appreciation and holds the honour of having Asteroid 7101 Haritina named after her.
Watch here Haritina talking at TEDx Christchurch in 2013.