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(ANS – Buenos Aires) – Amongst those responsible in NASA for guiding the descent of the “Curiosity” capsule to the Martian surface was Engineer Miguel San Martin, Salesian Past Pupil of Pius IX College in Buenos Aires. An article published in “La Nación”, the Argentinian Daily, spoke of the engineer's part in building the complex vehicle which has as its mission to find signs of life on Mars.
Odyssey is the space vehicle which transmitted data to earth during Curiosity's descent. When Curiosity finally landed on Mars cheering broke out from the more than 800 scientists in the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) at Pasadena, California, US.
Amongst the most exultant in the group was Argentinian engineer Miguel San Martin who could be seen in the forefront of the picture embracing each of the colleagues around him. As a flight engineer, San Martin was one of the main persons responsible for the success of Curiosity's descent to Mars. “O my God, this has been great. We have telemetric data from the probe. They are correct”, he said for the world to hear via internet.
San Martin was in the 1977 graduation class at Pius IX College in Buenos Aires, then went on to qualify for a very responsible position with NASA and certainly a place which will stand out in the history of flights to Mars. He is head engineer for guidance, navigation and control at the Mars Science Lab for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and as such, he guided the landing phase of Curiosity on Martian soil.
With other engineers he developed the guidance system that brought the capsule to its goal, like an aeroplane in its final aerodynamic braking process. At the same time the scientists also invented a completely new system for this final braking phase, which they called 'Skycrane'. The idea consisted in attaching the vehicle to a kind of helicopter crane: A module with rocket-propelled jets in place of the helicopter blades, which held the rover suspended with three seven metre cables and then delicately deposited it on its wheels, already lowered.