World cheers Mars Rover, Indians salute Swati Mohan
While NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance successfully landed on the Red Planet, there was one more reason for Indians to cheer in the history of space exploration. Among the scientists who are part of this historic mission, Indian-American Dr Swati Mohan spearheaded the development of attitude control and the landing system for the rover.
She was leading the altitude control of the river, and her excitement was palpable as soon as the news came that Perseverance had landed safely on Mars.
The robotic vehicle sailed through space for almost seven months, covering 472 million kilometres before entering the Martian atmosphere at 19,000 km/h to begin its approach to touchdown on the planet’s surface. Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, the rover had already reached the Martian surface by the time its arrival was confirmed by the signals relayed to Earth from one of several satellites orbiting Mars.
Scientists believe an ancient river once flowed into a lake at the Jezero Crater and deposited sediments, hopefully preserving signs of any life present billions of years ago. Only about half of previous Mars landing attempts have succeeded and this location is the most difficult.
Perseverance has already started sending pictures and even sounds from the planet.
Swati Mohan was only 9 when she decided to become an astrophysicist after watching and getting inspired by the TV series Star Trek.