Meet Diana Trujillo: Colombian Behind NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Functions

Diana Trujillo
Diana Trujillo studied Aerospace Engineering at University of Maryland. YouTube/Univision Noticias

Since her days as a high-school student in Cali, Colombia, Diana Trujillo dreamt of becoming an Aerospace Engineer. According to Trujillo, it was he math teacher who encouraged her to follow her dreams in the U.S.

After finishing her studies at Cañaverales International School, she obtained her student Visa and travelled to Florida, where she studied Space Science at the Miami Dade Community College. She later attended the University of Maryland, where she graduated as an Aerospace Engineer in 2007.

Trujillo’s effort and dedication took her to where she is now, leading operations for “Curiosity” next to a team of 45 professionals, 3 of them Latinos. NASA's rover Curiosity landed on Mars on August 2012, it has now been trundling across the Red Planet for three very productive and eventful years.

Trujillo explains, “After doing an internship at NASA, I met a friend who was just starting to work on ‘Curiosity’ and he invited me to fill the application at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and they contacted me on November 2008.”

Diana worked at the lab for over 6 months to make sure the DTR, a piece that “cleans the floor so you can see properly before putting up a camera,” was working properly. “On day 151 in Mars it was the first time we used this piece, and that was the fruit of my work,” she recalled during an interview with EFE.

Currently married and 6 months pregnant, Diana Trujillo is in charge of following Curiosity’s moves on the foreign planet, “My job is to verify that all the information the robot sends to planet earth is showing that we do not have any problems, and that all the sequences and activities we sent to it have been executed in the way we expected. Evaluate if the route we pick is safe or not for the rover, and in some occasions we have had discussions over what routes are not safe enough for us to go through.”

She is currently interviewing some of her colleagues to take her position because she wants to start training to become an astronaut

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Janel Saldana

Janel Saldana joined the Latin Times family in March 2015. She graduated from Texas Christian University and UDLAP (Universidad de las Américas Puebla) with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Radio, TV and Film production. After spending years traveling the world and living abroad, Janel decided to settle in New York and call it home. She is most passionate about traveling, entertainment in all its forms and animal advocacy, especially dogs.