NASA’s First African astrophysicist and key player in the exploration of Mars with the Pathfinder and Sojourner projects, Cheikh Modibo Diarra is without doubt a brilliant scientist. As a physicist from similar background, this Malian scientist has inspired me by his intelligence and hard work. Cheikh Modibo Diarra earned his baccalaureate in Mali; he then went on to study mathematics, physics and analytical mechanics at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. After a while, he got bored by his classes (a sign of genius?) and went on an adventure exploring the world, and ended up in the USA at a friend’s invitation. He then attended Howard University in Washington DC where he earned a PhD in aerospatial engineering. Later, he taught at Howard as a physics professor, until one day he met two recruiters from Jet Propulsion Laboratory (a NASA Lab) in the corridor of his building. That’s when his career with NASA started. Recruited as NASA’s first African researcher, Diarra participated in programs such as the Magellan probe to Venus, the Ulysses probe to the Sun, the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter, the Mars Observer and the Mars Pathfinder. He later became the director of NASA’s “Mars Exploration Program Education and Public Outreach.”
In 1999, he created the Pathfinder Foundation for the education and development of Africa. Three years later, he founded the solar energy research laboratory of Bamako in Mali. He is involved in programs for the development of Africa. On the 20th of February 2006, he was appointed the head of Microsoft Africa. Cheikh Diarra is currently based in Johannesburg where he works with Microsoft South Africa and WECA (West , East and Central Africa).
Please help me applaud this proud African scientist, hailing from Segou, in the heart of the Bambara kingdom! If you have a chance, check out his book Navigateur Interplanétaire, which is available in French, and other languages. Other sites such as Grioo.com, africansuccess.org, and Wikipedia will provide you with more biographical information about this world-renowned Malian scientist!