Sunday, October 17

To Infinity and Beyond: The Most Prominent Latinos at NASA | Digital Trends Spanish

Conquering the stars, and incidentally a country with a culture and language other than their own, has been the dream of Latinas and Latinos whose work and discipline led them to earn a place in the jealous National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The United States, better known as NASA, responsible for launching satellites, probes, manned aircraft and rovers for research and exploration beyond planetary borders. Get inspired by the stories of these characters, you may become the next person to contribute to the exploration of space and its confines in one of the most important research centers in the world.

In Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15, we also celebrate Latinos whose dreams, but above all their hard work and perseverance, led them to join the ranks of NASA.

Evelyn Millares

Evelyn Miralles, engineer in charge of the Virtual Reality Laboratory at Johnson Space Center.

At age 20, Evelyn Millares migrated from Venezuela to the United States to become an architect, however, at the University of Houston, Texas, she would begin her long and nurturing path in the world of computing and virtual reality.

After completing his graduate studies in space science at Harvard, Millares joined the Virtual Reality Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, where he has collaborated for more than 20 years; Today she is the lead engineer and technology strategist for this agency.

In addition to building a 3D model of a house on the Moon, among the most outstanding works of Millares are DOUG (Dynamic Onboard Ubiquitous Graphics), a virtual reality training software that helps train astronauts, and EDGE, a research program used in all NASA centers in the US.

My passion started with an interest in architecture, in building something. I ended up building the space station in 3D, so I think I achieved that goal! ”The architect told the American non-profit organization AARP.

Rodolfo Neri Vela

Rodolfo Neri Vela
Rodolfo Neri Vela, the first Mexican astronaut at NASA.

The first Mexican astronaut not only boasts this title, but also that of being the first Latin American representative on a NASA mission.

A communications and electronics engineer from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, a master in telecommunications from the University of Essex and a doctorate in applied electromagnetism from the University of Birmingham, Rodolfo Neri Vela was selected in 1985 by the US agency to be part of the STS Mission -61-B, the second from the shuttle Atlantis.

Aboard Atlantis, Neri Vela orbited Earth 109 times as a cargo specialist; The objective of the mission was to put three communications satellites into orbit: Morelos II (Mexico), AUSSAT-2 (Australia) and SATCOM KU-2 (United States).

This outstanding Mexican has also collaborated with the European Space Agency, specifically, in the International Space Station (ISS) project, has given conferences, lectures, written several books, conducted television programs and carried out any activity aimed at disseminating science. .

Laura Delgado Lopez

Laura Delgado López, public policy analyst at the Directorate of Scientific Missions.

In her native Puerto Rico and during her adolescence, Laura Delgado thought she would dedicate herself to art full time, since at fairs she used to sell tablets engraved using the pyrography technique. Perhaps NASA was not part of their initial plans, but “I was sure they wanted to a career that allowed him to travel and surround himself with people from which to learn daily ”.

Delgado did not study any engineering nor has he dedicated his life to laboratories. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in political science, he had the opportunity to do an internship in Washington, DC, where he had his first acquaintance with space politics.

Since 2018 he has been a public policy analyst at the Directorate of Scientific Missions, where he provides support to the agency’s robotic missions to “explain the why and how” of these. In addition, it helps NASA to properly follow the policies, laws and regulations that affect these activities.

Eduardo Bendek

Eduardo Bendek, specialist in optomechanical systems for telescopes in search of exoplanets.

Affiliated with the Ames Research Center and the BAER Institute of NASA, Eduardo Bendek, a mechanical engineer specialized in astrophysics from the Catholic University of his native Chile, has more than 10 years of experience in the design, integration and operation of optomechanical systems state-of-the-art for terrestrial and space telescopes.

Doctor of Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, Bendek’s work, covering adaptive optics, wavefront control, high-contrast imaging, and large off-axis optical systems, has been instrumental in detect exoplanets from Earth and space; even made him worthy of the Medal to NASA Outstanding Technological Achievement in 2015.

Among the missions it has participated in are ACESat, dedicated to obtaining images of exoplanets in the Alpha Centauri star system and MAP, a microarc-second probe to detect and measure planets around nearby stars.

Diana Trujillo

Diana Trujillo, leader of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineering team in charge of the robotic arm of the Perseverance rover. POT

Diana Trujillo is not only one of the The most important scientists of the 21st century and one of the most influential Latinas in technology, is an example of improvement for many women and men who leave their countries in search of a better quality of life.

After arriving in the United States with just 17 years, $ 300 dollars and without knowing the language, the Colombian aerospace engineer, motivated by the stories of other women who have participated in NASA missions, applied for an internship at this agency; Upon being selected, she became the first migrant woman of Hispanic origin to be admitted to a program at this US research center.

Trujillo joined NASA in 2008 and since then has participated in various human and robotic space missions, notably his leadership in the Curiosity mission and the development of the robotic arm of the Perseverance rover – of which he also narrated its landing in Spanish, in February this year. Today she is the flight director for the Mars 2020 mission.

Carlos Fontanot

Carlos Fontanot, image manager of the International Space Station.

Inspired by his maternal grandfather, a German migrant who, upon arriving in Mexico, dedicated himself to photography, Fontanot has always been interested in images, whether still or in motion. Like his grandfather, he migrated to another country, in his case he went from Mexico to the United States, where he graduated in communications (radio, television and film) from the University of Houston.

In 1990, this engineer came to NASA, to the television area, to process and supervise the images captured by the STS (Space Transportation System) shuttles. Then, he worked in public relations, in phase 1 of the International Space Station, work that would lead him to change his residence once again, but now to Moscow, to prepare the first manned flight to the ISS and transmit these images to the world.

Carlos Fontanot has been an image manager for the International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center for two decades. He and his team manage, catalog, archive and distribute the thousands of fascinating images and videos of Earth that we see every day from the ISS.

Ali Guarneros Luna

Ali Guarneros Luna, collaborator of the Mission Security and Guarantee Systems Office.

Perhaps the name of this Mexican is not so well known outside of NASA, but her work is not less important for that. The life story of Ali Guarneros is a source of great pride, as she knew how to put herself before the most unimaginable challenges until she became one of the most important researchers in the United States.

Today a full-time collaborator of the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley – where she arrived in 2010 – Ali, her mother and siblings migrated to the US after the 1985 earthquake that devastated much of Mexico City, where she was born.

Although since she was a child she always wanted to be an aerospace engineer, before she could study she had to work to support her family until, with four young children – two of them with special needs – she began her professional training.

In his 30s, Ali Guarneros came to NASA for an internship, and he never left. Today it is in charge of developing technologies that save time and money, such as low-cost miniature satellites that help future space missions and projects related to the ISS.

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