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The Paisa Lady who Works with the Stars

The Paisa Lady who Works with the Stars

Since childhood, Luz Maria Martinez Sierra dreamed of working in everything related to space, what motivated her most was to see all the images of the surface of Mars, gaseous planets, galaxies and remote areas of the universe that the available technology allowed.

Medellin.travel had the opportunity to meet Luz Maria Martinez, a woman born in Medellin and who thanks to her great curiosity, intelligence and tenacity has managed to take her talent to NASA.

Yes! We have a representative at NASA!

Luz Maria Martinez Sierra, is a Physical Engineer graduated at EAFIT (2009), and with a Master’s Degree in Physical Engineering from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in the United States, she is currently finishing her PhD in Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University.

Créditos: Universidad Eafit

Thanks to her the space missions can be carried out in a safe way.

And what does Luz Maria do at NASA? Her work is very important:

“The focus of my job is to develop simulations that allow us understanding how radiation (electrons, protons and ions) present in outer space can interact with components and parts of spacecrafts designed by JPL*, and thus being able to prevent any critical damage that they can cause to the missions”.

“Also, part of my research is analyzing data taken by the Curiosity rover (Particularly with the Curiosity Instrument that measures neutrons on the surface of Mars) and understanding how radiation on the surface of Mars is critical for future manned missions to this planet”.

Does it allow the success of a mission to Jupiter?

Now work is being punctually done on one of the next missions that is being designed to go to Europe, the Jupiter’s moon. “We believe that there is a liquid ocean beneath a large ice sheet and this mission will be in charge of investigating this moon. One of the great challenges of this mission is to survive in a high energy radiation environment, and that is where my peers and I come into action to develop analyzes that allow us ensuring the success of the mission once it reaches Jupiter’s orbit“.

Créditos: NASA JPL-Caltech Lyle Tavernier

Luz Maria’s life is among stars; however, she misses her family in Medellin, and sharing those important moments with them. “Fortunately nowadays it is easier to travel, which allows me going and visiting Medellin, or that my relatives come visiting me”

Knowing Medellin

Luz Maria recommends visiting Medellin "so that each person can experience what Medellin is, and leave behind those stereotypes that have harmed us so much. That they know the diversity of places, from a resort in Santa Fe de Antioquia, Santa Fe de Antioquia, passing through agricultural farms and mounted on horseback, going to Rio Claro for a little natural hiking, or even a boat ride in the Guatape dam. And that without mentioning the food and so many options existing now of fusion food, unique culinary experiences.”

“But what I would most recommend is a visit to the cultural complex of the  Planetario, Parque Explora and Jardín Botánico.  Of course, you should also do a little shopping, because although clothing brands are not well known worldwide, the quality and design are the best!”

Currently, Luz Maria works at NASA’s JPL* as a space environment engineer and lives in Pasadena, California.

*JPL Jet Propulsion Lab