CALIFORNIA - When the Curiosity Rover finally landed on Mars, there was excitement around the world, particularly Filipinos, after finding out there are a couple of Filipinos who are part of the mission.
Lloyd Manglapus is one of them. He is Mission Control Operator and Senior Software Engineer for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.
The former UST student serves as the lead in the historic Curiosity mission which touched down on Mars on August 5.
“I feel blessed and I feel really lucky to be part of this project and I'm just thankful,” Manglapus said.
Manglapus has been working for at NASA's JPL for the past 12 years, with 6 years just for the Curiosity alone.
But since Curiosity’s landed on the red planet, he’s become a star on his own right--doing interviews about the mission and having been congratulated by family, friends and even strangers via email, Facebook and Twitter.
He said the attention is overwhelming, but knows that because there aren’t a lot of Filipinos in his line of work, many people especially kids are looking up to him.
“It’s all very welcome for me. If I could just inspire one kid out there who is going to want to pursue their dreams wherever it takes them I think that’s what makes it all worthwhile,” added Manglapus.
Manglapus said that Curiosity’s goal is to try to determine if the planet is capable of sustaining life –or if life there ever existed.
“Part of what we’re trying to do here is to try and get a clue of what might be going on in Mars and to somehow answer that question or get an idea of what we’re dealing with,” added Manglapus.
“If ever we find anything on Mars, it is probably not going to be what the popular media shows it to be. It’ll probably be some form of a microorganism or something like that. We’ll leave it up to the scientist to figure out that data.”
The Curiosity Rover will be roaming Mars for the next two earth years.