Explorador Perseverance will reach Mars with a Latin stamp

Latin Mars Perseverance Explorer
Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press. [P360P].

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be discovered."

Carl Sagan.

After its launch was postponed twice, and after almost seven months of travel, the Perseverance rover will finally reach the surface of Mars in order to explore whether there is or ever was life on the red planet, a mission that has its own Latin stamp, as several engineers from Latin America participate in the NASA project. 

At an estimated cost of $2.1 billion, the Mars 2020 rover is equipped not only with pioneering technology, but also with the experience and dedication of a team of engineers and scientists, including several talented Latino professionals.

Fernando Abilleira

Originally from Madrid, Spain, Fernando Abilleira, 42, who worked on the Curiosity and InSight missions, was the director of Perseverance's mission design and navigation team.

The Spaniard, who has been working for more than 15 years at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on the Mars 2020 mission, plays a fundamental role, leading the team that designs the launch period and optimizes the interplanetary trajectories, as well as the rover's entry, descent and landing trajectories.

Its team is in charge of orbit determination studies, designing trajectory correction maneuvers and developing plans for the activities to be carried out during the interplanetary journey and the arrival at Mars. 

Eric Aguilar

Born to a Costa Rican father and Mexican-American mother, Eric Aguilar is the director of the Perseverance testbed and assistant product delivery manager for the Mars mission sample collection system. 

His responsibilities range from system engineering, integration, testing and verification of the subsystem, ground support equipment, design, and subsystem protection, among other things.

In short, he led a team of engineers who were charged with designing the robotic arm that will drill into the Martian surface to collect samples of Martian soil to find signs of past microbiotic life.

Christina Diaz Hernandez

Christina Diaz Hernandez is an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who worked on three of Perseverance's seven instrument systems.

Of Mexican parents, but born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Christina, 29, worked on the MEDA system, which is in charge of taking climatological measurements of Mars; on the PIXL instrument, which measures the chemical composition of rocks and takes pictures of them and the texture of the Martian soil; and on RIMFAX, an instrument that can observe the geological features that lie beneath the surface of Mars using radar waves.

Luis Dominguez

Born to a Honduran father and Mexican mother, Luis Dominguez was one of the engineers who worked on the assembly of the Perseverance inside the JPL facility.

The mission of the graduate of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, was to integrate all the components of the vehicle and make sure they worked well. 

Dominguez, 31, who has worked for more than a decade at NASA, is involved in distinctive social initiatives in the city of Los Angeles, and puts his work at the U.S. space agency on the same terms as the small gardening business he founded to subsidize his college years.

Jessica Samuels 

A graduate of aeronautical and mechanical engineering from the University of California-Davis, the specialist with a Cuban mother and Canadian father is the director of surface sample collection operations and the lead engineer for Perseverance's flight systems.

On this NASA mission to the Red Planet, Samuels must cover several areas, from leading sample collection operations on the surface to being the lead engineer for the rover's flight systems, ranging from the vehicle's ability to drive itself autonomously to its ability to manipulate the robotic arm and collect samples of Martian soil.

Samuels also worked on the Curiosity mission.

Diana Trujillo

The aerospace engineer from Cali, Colombia, is the Mars 2020 surface leader and is in charge of making sure all parts of Perseverance work independently and together. 

With a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland, Trujillo, 36, has worked at NASA on human and robotic missions to space, as well as being a leader on the Curiosity project.

These Latinos are just a part of the explorers and dreamers who are always willing to give the best of themselves to go further, even in difficult times, and move forward with perseverance to reach goals outside of our planet.

NASA invited the Latino community to join this February 18th to experience, from the comfort of their homes, the landing of the Rover Perseverance on the planet Mars, with a program entirely in Spanish that will highlight the Latino contribution to this mission.

Through a special broadcast, NASA will transport everyone to the mission control center at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, where they will be able to witness, accompanied by the engineers and scientists working with the rover, the exact moment when Perseverance arrives at Mars and begins its exploration mission.

Thus, this February 18 at 11:30 Pacific time or 14:30 Eastern time, through NASA's social networks - Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram: NASA_ES and on Facebook: NASAES - we will be able to witness one of the moments that will make history in space aeronautics.

It is noteworthy that the Mexican singer Carla Morrison will be collaborating with NASA this coming Thursday, as it will participate in the transmission in Spanish of the landing of the robot explorer Perseverance on Mars. 

The native of Tecate, Baja California, said through her social networks, feeling "super excited" because this will be the first time that a NASA mission landing will be narrated in Spanish.

"The space agency invited me to collaborate with them for this. I hope you can join me in this countdown? Many of us will be able to understand it better, live it, experience it, and be excited about it. Join me for this countdown," the performer said.

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