On February 18, the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that its Perseverance rover has successfully landed on the surface of Mars. Indian-American Dr Swati Mohan is among the scientists who were a part of the historic mission that has landed a rover and a helicopter on the red planet and will attempt to ascertain whether there remain any tell-tale signs of ancient life in its more extreme regions.
While speaking to Republic, Dr Mohan thanked the people for the wishes and attention she has been receiving after essentially having headlined NASA's global stream and coverage of the thrilling landing. She further talked about the challenges faced by the Perseverance team and discussed the road ahead.
"I would just like to say Thank you. I am humbled by the attention and congratulations. I will say that I am not necessarily unique, there are so many Indians on the Perseverance project, so many women, even Indian women. We all worked as a team in order to make this mission a success. If my role as the commentator is able to bring anything to light, it's just that the Perseverance team at JPL was incredibly diverse, dedicated and immensely talented. Every one of them has contributed to the success that we had on the landing day," Dr Mohan said.
While the world witnessed the dramatic landing, Dr Mohan was communicating and coordinating between the GN&C (Guidance, navigation and control) subsystem and the rest of the team. She also looks after the team and schedules the mission control staffing for GN&C, alongside being the lead systems engineer during the development process. Apart from being a member of the Perseverance Rover mission since the beginning of NASA's endeavour, Dr Mohan has also been a part of various other important space missions. The Indian-American scientist worked on projects Cassini (a mission to Saturn) and GRAIL (a pair of formation flown spacecraft to the Moon.)
After NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover plummeted & parachuted toward the surface of Mars on February 18, a new video of the major milestone has given an unprecedented glimpse into the final minutes of its entry, descent, and landing (EDL) on Mars. A microphone on the rover has also provided the first audio recording of sounds from Mars.
The Perseverance rover, the largest and most advanced robot sent by any country to another planet, reached Mars after travelling through space for more than 200 days. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California announced the confirmation of the successful touchdown. The probe was launched on July 30 during the crucial small window that opened for launch to Mars last year.