To aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo, life sometimes seems like a science fiction dream come true. Trujillo was born in Cali, Colombia. Though she was always captivated by space exploration, she never could have imagined that one day she would lead one of the most important missions to Mars.
"From Cali to Mars," she likes to say.
When she was 17, Trujillo moved to the United States. Her father gave her $300 because “it was time for me to figure out my future,” she says. She got three jobs and enrolled in Miami Dade community college. Years later, she got an internship at the NASA Academy Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. There she worked in the Constellation program, where she helped create the next generation of spaceships that will fly to the Moon and Mars.
Thanks to this, Trujillo was then chosen to lead the Mars Curiosity Rover mission, the most important program at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in California. She is in charge of the instrument that “removes dust from rocks to perforate and study their chemical components,” according to the Orlando Sentinel, and of programing the rover’s daily 12-hour routes.
“It’s unthinkable,” Trujillo says. “I tell my story and then I think, ‘Is this serious, did this really happen to me?’”
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