Photo from mars.nasa.gov

The House Committee on Science and Technology, headed by Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, passed House Resolution 1611 on Monday, lauding three Fil-Ams for their crucial role and participation in the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18, 2021.

In a statement, the House said Gregorio G. Villar III, Genevie V. Yang, and Edward Gonzales are being commended for their roles in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Landing project (NASA) to look for “signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for a possible return to Earth”.

In his sponsorship remarks, Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo said that on July 30, 2020, NASA launched the Mars project to explore the Jezero Crater through its Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter.

One of the major components of the mission is the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) of the spacecraft on the fourth planet from the Sun. Villar, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) EDL systems engineer, has made a significant contribution to the Mars 2020 Mission as the EDL Phase’s head verification and validation engineer, resulting in the safe landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars.

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Villar studied at St. Louis University-Laboratory High School in Baguio City, completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Physics at the California State Polytechnic University, and earned his Doctoral Degree in Astronautical Engineering at the University of Southern California.

Yang, a flight systems engineer at NASA JPL, was a member of the team that tested the flight software of the Perseverance rover. She also leads the Uplink team to generate commands and strengthen the spacecraft while at launch cruise.

Yang was born in Biñan City, Laguna, before migrating to California, USA.

Gonzales, on the other hand, is the lead engineer of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Team that ensured that the Perseverance would collect data and submit the same to Earth despite electromagnetic noise. Although born and raised in California, the parents of Gonzales hailed from Quezon City and Cavite.

“Through this resolution, it is our fervent hope that we inspire the Filipino youth, the Filipinos in fact, who played such an important part in space exploration during this last decade. It is only fitting that the House of the People, the House of Representatives, commend these three geniuses, three explorers of space who serve also as an inspiration to the Philippines,” Romulo said.

Meanwhile, the panel started deliberation on House Bill 8152 authored by Masbate Rep. Elisa Kho. It seeks to establish a national policy framework for the promotion of animal biotechnology to recognize, foster, as well as advance its significant health and welfare benefits for animals and humans.

As defined under the bill, “Animal Biotechnology” refers to the use of science and engineering to modify living organisms with the goal (of) improving animals and developing microorganisms for specific agriculture use, explore drugs and vaccines for prevention and treatment of diseases, and food technology.

The panel approved the motion of Kho to defer consideration of the bill instead of creating a technical working group.

“We just collate all the inputs and we will fine-tune until I will present that to the body again,” Kho said.

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