When NASA’s Perseverance rover gently touched down to the surface of Mars on Thursday following seven weeks in space, it had been an Indian-American called Dr Swati Mohan, who initially confirmed the rover had survived a particularly tricky plunge into the Martian atmosphere.
Swati Mohan, who successfully spearheaded the development of attitude control and also the landing platform for the rover, was among the team of scientists supporting the historical mission. The attitude control system is responsible for pointing the rover from the direction it needs to be and helps figure out at which the spacecraft is oriented in space.
“Touchdown affirmed! Perseverance is firmly on the surface of Mars, prepared to start seeking the indicators of past life,” a calm and composed bindi-clad Mohan announced shortly after the rover landed, as cheers erupted in NASA’s mission control room in California.
The Cornell graduate was connected with this Perseverance Mars Mission since its beginning and continues to be a part of a range of other NASA missions through recent years. Notably, she worked on NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn.
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On Thursday, Swati Mohan made history again, when she steered the controllers and landing platform of the rover and navigated a somewhat tough touchdown, although the entire world watched with bated breath.
The NASA scientist emigrated from India into the United States when she was only a year old. The majority of her childhood was spent at the Northern Virginia-Washington DC region. Mohan traces her love to get distance back into the American science fiction show’Star Trek’, which she watched in age 9. While she wished to be a paediatrician till she was 16, she later chose to be an engineer and pursue her fascination with space exploration.
The autonomous vehicle sailed through distance for almost seven weeks and coated over 472 million kilometers before entering the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 mph (19,000 kilometers per hour) to start its strategy to touchdown on the world’s surface.