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Former astronaut Mae Jemison drops by 'Sesame Street' on Thursday (exclusive sneak peek video)

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison guest stars (in animated form) on "Sesame Street" on Jan. 27, 2022.
Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison guest stars (in animated form) on "Sesame Street" on Jan. 27, 2022. (Image credit: Sesame Workshop)

The "Sesame Street" friends got a pretty good guide to lead them on their latest space adventure.

Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison guest stars on the latest episode of "Sesame Street," which airs Thursday (Jan. 27) on HBO Max. 

She appears in an 11-minute clip that also features "Sesame Street" residents Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby Cadabby. The Muppet trio team up to play a space video game, which requires their cartoon avatars to complete a moon quest laid out by a cartoon version of Jemison.

Related: Mae Jemison's astronaut biography

"Greetings, Astro Team Alpha!" the animated Jemison, clad in a spacesuit and standing next to her rocket on the moon, tells Elmo, Cookie Monster and Abby. 

"It's time to go home, but my rovers, which I drive to explore the moon, are way over there," she adds, pointing to three lunar vehicles parked on the gray dirt. "Your mission, astronauts: drive the rovers back to the rocket ship before it's time for us to blast off for home. Can you do it?"

Elmo and Abby express excitement and confidence, but Cookie Monster has a slightly different response: "It sound a little complicated, but me give it try."

Acing this mission will require teamwork and problem-solving skills. You'll have to watch the entire clip, and not just the exclusive two-minute teaser above, to see if the Muppets can pull it off.

Jemison has never been to the moon in real life, but she does have a trip to Earth orbit under her belt. In September 1992, she became the first African-American woman ever to reach space, spending eight days in the final frontier on the STS-47 mission of the space shuttle Endeavour.

She left NASA in March 1993 and has done a variety of interesting things since. For example, Jemison, a trained medical doctor, taught environmental studies at Dartmouth for seven years and led the 100-Year Starship project, a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative that aimed to spur the research and technology development needed to help make human interstellar flight a reality within the next century. 

Jemison has also long been a strong advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and for science in general. She's written multiple books. And she's made high-profile TV appearances before. In 1993, for instance, she guest starred on an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation (opens in new tab)."

Jemison led a very interesting life before reaching space as well. For example, while attending medical school at Cornell University, she provided care to needy people in Cuba, Kenya and Thailand (opens in new tab). She also worked as a medical officer for the Peace Corps (opens in new tab) in West Africa in the early 1980s.

"Sesame Street" is currently in its 52nd season. New episodes air every Thursday on HBO Max (opens in new tab), and the season will stream for free on PBS Kids (opens in new tab) this fall.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab)

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Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.