Best of 2016

Image of UND space engineer Pablo de León in November issue of National Geographic ranked among that publication’s top photos of the year

National Geographic cover

Cover of November issue of National Geographic magazine, now on newsstands

A photograph published in the November edition of National Geographic magazine, featuring UND’s own space engineer, Pablo de León, was just selected as one of the publication’s 52 best photos of 2016.

In the photo, titled “Dressed for Mars,” de León wears one of his prototype space suits in a test chamber at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where, according to National Geographic, “fine soil and fans simulate conditions on the Red Planet. The image was included in a National Geographic cover story titled “Mars: Inside the High-Risk, High-Stakes Race to the Red Planet (November 2016).

During his time at UND, de León has been reaching new heights in publicity with his expertise in interplanetary travel and what to wear when you’re doing it.

On Oct. 8, de León, an associate professor of space studies at UND, was a featured guest at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., where he took time to display and answer questions about the latest version of his NDX-1 spacesuit, which was designed and constructed at UND.

De León was invited as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert Series in connection with Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day at the world-famous museum.

Amy Stamm, with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, visited with de León during his visit to Washington, D.C., and asked him some questions about his work. Check it out here.

UND has long been an innovative leader in the study of space and its impacts on life on Earth through the Department of Space Studies, part of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

Pablo de León and Tiffany Swarmer

UND Space Studies Associate Professor Pablo de León looks on as former UND grad student Tiffany Swarmer, wearing one of his latest versions of the UND NDX space suit system, manipulates a camera. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

A native of Argentina, de León has been with UND for 12 years, first as a research associate and starting in 2013 as associate professor. He holds degrees in aerospace engineering and a Ph.D. in the history of science and technology. He’s the project manager of UND’s NDX-1 Space Suit Program, a moon-suit version called the NDX-2 Lunar Suit Prototype, as well as UND’s Inflatable Lunar/Mars Habitat, which would allow space travelers to live and work for extended periods on the moon and Mars.

De León also is director of the Human Spaceflight Laboratory at UND, and he’s the chief scientist for a NASA grant program that will study the possibility of a “Multi-Purpose Research Station in North Dakota in Support of NASA´s Future Human Missions to Mars.”