(ECNS) -- A Chinese face debuted for the first time at a NASA press conference last week as a major speaker, arousing curiosity among fellow nationals concerning her path to one of the world's top institutes of astronomy.
Dong Yaxue, a 30-year-old Chinese scientist, spoke at the press conference on November 6 Beijing time as part of the NASA team that announced a finding that the Sun has stripped away atmosphere and water on Mars. The discovery was based on data sent back by NASA's Mars-orbiting MAVEN spacecraft.
Dong told Chengdu Economic Daily that she is lucky to be part of the great quest to explore Mars. She was first hired as a post doctoral candidate to help with data analysis.
As the hometown newspaper dug more into Dong's background, the girl appeared to be just like any other of her peers. As a Chengdu local, Dong's favorite dish is, no wonder, hotpot.
Her high school teacher said she was not a shiny star as a student but proved generally competent. "If she had been a nerd, she would not have reached NASA," said her teacher.
Citing her favorite song, "The Most Shiny Star", Dong said "No words are more romantic than 'the vast starry night sky'.