Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Farah Alibay at the controls of the Pers robot


A young Canadian of Madagascan origin is part of the NASA team piloting the Perseverance robot, which recently arrived on the surface of Mars on Thursday, February 18. Farah Alibay is an aerospace engineer and the pride of the Big Island.



For the past few days, young Farah Alibay has been cheerfully participating in interviews on television, radio, and in Canadian newspapers. This notoriety can be explained by the important role entrusted to it as part of the Perseverance mission, named after the robot which set foot on the soil of Mars on Thursday, February 18.

She has been working for NASA from the California coast for more than six years as part of the Red Planet space exploration mission (March 2020). System engineer in aerospace, Farah Alibay is part of the team that remotely pilot the Perseverance robot on Mars. It is for NASA to look for signs of old life on Mars.

The pride of Canada … and Madagascar

The young woman whose remarkable career is hailed in Canada is also the pride of the Malagasy community. Her mother left the Big Island at the age of 15 to live in North America.

Today, Farah Alibay thus also represents this successful Malagasy diaspora. “My mother is very proud of the fact that I work for NASA because she made a lot of sacrifices“, she confided on the Modern Hero Youtube channel in June 2017.

She grew up in Quebec until the age of 14 before following her family to England and after obtaining her bachelor’s then a master’s degree in engineering and space technology in 2010 at the University of Cambridge, she joined the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she obtained her doctorate in Space Systems Engineering in 2014.

Watch the report from Réunion La 1ère:

Farah Alibay, a Canadian of Madagascan origin, is part of the NASA team at the controls of the robot Perseverance on Mars

At martian time

Asked recently by Radio Canada journalists, she confided that the last six months of working with her NASA colleagues have been particularly intense. And since last Thursday, she now works at Martian time. “As the day is a little longer on Mars, each day my working day shifts by 40 minutes“.

In 2018, Farah Alibay had already worked on the InSight mission, a spacecraft designed to study the crust, mantle and core of Mars. To celebrate the landing of the aircraft, she had her hair dyed red, colors she still wears today.

It was the Apollo 13 film that she discovered at the age of 9 that made her want to turn to the aerospace professions. The young woman is also engaged in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America sponsorship program. She explains that she herself had to fight to find a place in the world of aerospace engineering, as a woman but also because of her origins.



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