From Colombia to Mars

April 30, 2020
CreditNASA 360
  • english

When she moved to the U.S. from Colombia, NASA-JPL engineer Diana Trujillo didn’t speak English. She paid her way through college by cleaning houses, learned English, and is now working to send her second spacecraft to the surface of Mars.

Learn more about NASA’s Perseverance rover:


I used to clean houses and today I'm trying to find out if there's life in another planet. My name is Diana Trujillo and I work with robotic arms to collect samples on Mars. What we're trying to do is to rove around the surface of this unknown planet to try to find out if at some point there was life on the surface of Mars. On the robotic arm we have two very interesting instruments. Well the robotic arm is actually right behind me. We will use the arm to place those instruments or the drill that will collect the sample which are the ones that will be analyzing that terrain and helping us understand what is it composed of and understand if there was some traceability of life. And I feel like such a lucky person to be working on this. We're standing on the Mars Yard. The intent here is to demonstrate that we have enough grip to continue to move the rover up and down in any hill on the surface of Mars. I was born and raised in Colombia. There was a lot of violence going on in my country so for me looking up at the sky and looking at the stars was my safe place. I came to the U.S. when I was 17. I learned English. Payed myself through college and eventually applied to be working here. We spend lots and lots of hours here, testing everything from how it should be moved, from how we're going to configure it. This is us trying to understand how we will use the hardware and the software to get it to do what we want to do on the surface of Mars. It is more about what your enthusiasm, your passion, and if you are determined to do what you want to do in your life, you will find a way.