Now the people who have sent their names to Mars feel that the mission to ‘persevere’ is also partly theirs.

Born in Barcelona, ​​raised in Al Masnoo and settled in the United States for more than 15 years, Maria Jose Vinas Speaking of his path, he looks back with a smile. “How does time pass, she sighs as she recalls the ups and downs that, after a decade of intense work, drove her to Performs communication in Spanish From NASA itself. In an interview with this newspaper, the journalist is contemplating the importance of Establishing standards in science It reviews some space developments this year, such as the upcoming landing of the “Perseverance” mission on Mars.

If my sources do not deceive me, your story begins in the science journalism of this newspaper. What direction did your life take to talk to us now from NASA? That’s right (laughs). First chance I was given by “El Dominical” from El Periódico. Moreover, were it not for Albert Garrido, I don’t know if I would dedicate myself to science journalism now. It’s been years since I put my science career aside, which I started after studying veterinary medicine, and I was already fully involved in journalism. Then Garrido suggested that I do two biomedical reports, and I saw that I could unite my passion for journalism and science. I got a scholarship from Fundació La Caixa, went to study in the US and mldr; From there it all started.

His idea was to create a communications department in Spanish. How did it all start? I started working at NASA in 2011, writing about polar science. Then I saw that there were some projects in Spanish. As a Twitter account and other projects led by Hispanic employee associations at NASA Centers. I spent years helping these projects in my spare hours until in 2019 I proposed a pilot project to manage and coordinate all communications in Spanish. Late last year The initiative took a life of its own And now we’re a very active division, with quite a few ambitious projects underway.

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What argument did you use to persuade NASA to create a section in Spanish? Talking about the science and leaving Spanish aside is a missed opportunity. And not only because it is the second most spoken language in the world, with more than 500 million speakers. Also, because talking about science in Spanish means breaking a barrier. When a Hispanic girl hears someone talking to her about incredible things in her own language, she feels that she, too, can accomplish the same. If we show science as something close, we also create references.

When a Hispanic girl hears someone talking to her about incredible things in her own language, she feels that she, too, can accomplish the same.

Much is said about the need to break stereotypes in science. Tell us, from your experience, what does working with such high-ranking scientists look like? It is a luxury. A lot of people think scientists are the very old, serious men who practically live locked in their labs, but they aren’t. Well, it might have been like 40 years ago, but now there is much more diversity. Researchers are people who are very committed to society. Younger people, for example, are very involved in social networks because they want to be closer to people’s interests and answer their questions in a more direct way.

What space news should we pay attention to this year? On February 18th, the “Perseverance” mission is scheduled to land on Mars, as we prepare our first 100% live broadcast in Spanish. In October, we will also launch the James Webb Space Telescope, the most powerful yet. And if the epidemic does not delay its occurrence, the first tests of the Artemis program will be launched in November, which expects in 2024 the first woman to land on the moon.

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Now we are all waiting for the “persevering” Mars mission. Is there any surprise you expect from us? In the program in Spanish that we are preparing there will be a little bit of everything; From interviews with Latin astronauts to a kids segment. Diana Trujillo, one of the aerospace engineers who took on the task, will talk about space exploration with Sesame Street dolls. It will also answer questions sent to us by a school in St. Vicench del Hortes. There will be an introduction by Juan, corporate messages and many offers of support. And if all goes well, another surprise & mldr;

The mission to “persevere” will be the first to bring a ticket to Mars of the names of thousands and thousands of Earthlings. How important are these types of projects? These types of initiatives are very important because they show citizens that they can also leave their mark on science. People who had sent their names to Mars now feel that this mission is theirs, too. In fact, the name “persevere” came from a competition in which children were asked to come up with a name for the task.

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The name “persistence” came from a competition in which the children were asked to create a name for the task

What is the secret to showing that science is indeed becoming more diverse and inclusive? There is nothing in particular. You just have to take an extra five minutes and wonder who to put in front of the camera. We must be aware of the importance of showing different references. There is still a long way to go before minorities in the sciences are not as underrepresented as they have been until now, but I think we are on the right path.

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Aileen Morales

"Beer nerd. Food fanatic. Alcohol scholar. Tv practitioner. Writer. Troublemaker. Falls down a lot."

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