On Thursday, humankind witnessed an amazing achievement in space exploration: the landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars.
The presentation of the mission was also notable: It was accompanied by NASA’s first-ever Spanish language broadcast for a planetary landing. The show was called “Juntos perseveramos,” or, “Together we persevere,” and was hosted by NASA aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo.
“My whole driver for all of this was — and is — to continue to take science to everybody in their own languages,” Trujillo told The World.
“It feels like a division … if you do a giant, historic step, but you only do it in one language,” she added.
The Colombian-born engineer worked on the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that designed the Perseverance rover’s robotic arm. Over the next two years, the Perseverance will use that arm to collect rock samples, which will then be returned to Earth by as early as 2031 and analyzed for signs of microbial life that may have existed on the Red Planet billions of years ago.
“I came from Colombia with $300 in my pocket,” Trujillo said. “I didn’t know any English. I didn’t know what I was going to do next. But I knew I was not going to come back to my country until I had done whatever I had to do here and become somebody that I was proud of.”
This is Trujillo’s second Mars mission — previously, she was the mission lead for NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Reflecting on the success of the Perseverance mission on Thursday, Trujillo says the achievement still feels surreal, adding that she has to look at photos from the landing to remind herself of what the team accomplished.
“I’m still looking at them, like, ‘I can’t believe that we did that,’” she said.