Latinos get NASA to Mars
Recent missions from the space agency have been made possible with the work of Latino and Latina engineers.
Details: Aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo moved from Colombia to the U.S. speaking no English. She paid her way through school by working as a housekeeper. She is now a lead scientist for the Mars Perseverance rover.
- Perseverance was built by and is managed through the Jet Propulsion Lab, where Latino engineers like Elio Morillo, Clara O’Farrelland Eric Aguilar join Trujillo.
- Trujillo's work on robotic arms and Christina Hernandez's hardware development for spectrometers contributed to Perseverance's ability to collect Mars rock samples and perform detailed scans in search of life.
Driving the news: Hernandez, O’Farrell and Trujillo will be among the recipients of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Awards this October.
- They follow Latinas like Sylvia Acevedo, one of the first female NASA engineers, and Ellen Ochoa, who was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center.
What’s next: In October of next year, NASA plans to launch a space telescope to try to find the universe's first galaxies.
- Mexican optical engineer Margaret Zoila Domínguez has been one of the key team members.
Yes, but: Last year only 7% of NASA employees were Hispanic or Latino, the second-lowest ethnic or racial group in the ranks of the space agency.
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