Filipino talent transcends outer space: Fil-Am helps NASA’s rover lands on Mars

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Truly, Filipino talent has no limit–it even transcends outer space! 

Filipino-American engineer Gregorio Villar was among the individuals behind the successful landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. 

As shared by the Philippine Embassy in the US on its official Twitter account, it announced that Villar helped the safe landing of the rover on the planet Mars. 

Villar is the entry, descent, and landing systems engineer of the Mars 2020 mission. According to his profile published on the mars.nasa.gov website, he studied high school in Baguio City before moving to the US where he finished a degree in Physics and went on to get a master’s degree in astronautical engineer at the University of Southern California. 

The Filipino American has been part of NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory (JPL) team for over 12 years now and spent over 7.5 years building and testing a system that will help land a car-sized rover on Mars. 

He also directed a Mars parachute test campaign at the world’s largest wind tunnel which he considered the most extraordinary experience he has had so far while working for NASA. He also led a council of atmospheric scientists from institutions around the world, to characterize the Martian atmosphere. 

Villar also revealed on his profile that he was awarded a NASA scholarship in his junior year of college, which came with an internship at a NASA centre of his choice. He started interning at JPL in 2010 and got hired full-time in 2012.

When he was in elementary, it was his always dream to be an astronaut. 

“Although it is a cliche, it is very important to pursue something you love. I have worked at JPL for over 12 years now, and there is rarely a day that I feel like I am going to work,” he said.