When NASA's Perseverance Rover touched down on Mars on Thursday, Dr Swati Mohan was literally at the controls.
The Indian-American scientist spearheaded the development of attitude control and the landing system of the rover, which is the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another to look for traces of ancient microbial life on another world.
"Touchdown confirmed. Perserverance is safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life," the bindi (pottu) wearing scientist proudly exclaimed when the rover landed safely in a vast crater on the Red Planet.
Swati, whose family moved from India to the US when she was one, has been associated with the Perseverance Mars mission since its inception and has been working on the project for over seven years. She has also worked on Nasa’s Cassini mission to the Saturn, and GRAIL (a pair of formation flown spacecraft to the Moon).
She is currently working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, and is the operations lead for the Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation, and Controls (GN&C) project.
Perserverance launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on July 30, 2020, and landed on Mars Thursday. The six-wheeled vessel will spend the next one Mars year (two years on Earth) searching for signs of ancient microbial life, to gauge the planet's habitability.
According to reports, Swati was inspired to become a scientist after watching "Star Trek" when she was nine.
Fascinated with space, she wanted to "find new and beautiful places in the universe."
Bravo! A true "Singga Pen" indeed. Swati has made all women, and Indians around the world proud with her out-of-the-world achievement!
Source: India Today, News 18
Photo source: The Indian Express, usatoday.com
Fri Feb 19 2021