• Dong Yaxue was joined by other NASA scientists during the Nov. 5 news conference.

Dong Yaxue was joined by other NASA scientists during the Nov. 5 news conference. (Photo : Sina Weibo)

Dong Yaxue, a Chinese scientist working for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has made history on Nov. 5 by becoming the first Chinese female scientist to participate in a NASA news conference.

Dong is currently part of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN), which is a project involving a space probe orbiting Mars and studying its atmosphere.

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Dong was invited to speak at a Nov. 5 NASA news conference about Mars, wherein they said that the atmosphere of the planet could have been stripped by solar winds.

A graduate from Shishi High School in Chengdu, Dong went to college at the University of Science and Technology of China. Later she earned her master's and doctor's degree in astrophysics from Rice University in Texas.

In 2014, Dong started working at the Laboratory for Atmospherics and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado. It was there that she joined the MAVEN program after handing in her resume and being interviewed over the phone.

Dong's main responsibility in the MAVEN program is to analyze satellite data and compare actual results with theoretical predictions.

"The findings released during the news conference are very important and may change the content of school textbooks," Dong said in a statement to Chengdu Business Daily. "It has also provided new information and guidance for future Mars exploration."

Dong has made it clear that despite her success as a Mars researcher, she still feels like an ordinary girl who feels as if she had never left Chengdu.

"No matter what job I do, I'm always an ordinary girl," Dong said.

During the news conference, Dong was joined by other Mars researchers at NASA, including Michael Meyer, Bruce Jakosky, Jasper Halekas and Dave Brain.