After seven months of being in orbit, NASA’s Perseverance Rover finally made a descent onto the surface of Mars. But that was not the only sensation that took place. ‘Touchdown confirmed’ were the words that were announced to the world after the rover successfully managed to descend into Mars’s surface. The person who was behind the microphone speaking those words was Dr. Swati Mohan and she became an overnight sensation after the rover landed on Mars and she relayed the news to the rest of the world. Until that particular day, Swati Mohan was just another employee of NASA about whom we were pretty much unaware. But she suddenly rose to fame when the people of India noticed on Twitter that an Indian-origin woman has played a very important role in this crucial mission for the world.
Dr. Swati Mohan NASA
Hearing her voice, many people from India must have been reminded of another woman in NASA who has an Indian-origin. We are talking about Kalpana Chawla. She was an astronaut from India who had a tragic accident and lost her life in the Columbia Space Shuttle in the year 2003. After Kalpana Chawla, it is Dr. Swati Mohan’s name and her achievements that are now becoming a matter of pride in India. Yes, Dr. Mohan might have had a different kind of occupation at NASA when compared to Kalpana Chawla, but the occupation is equally important.
Dr. Swati Mohan NASA is now the ‘eyes and ears’ of the rover called Perseverance. This rover is a machine that has been orbiting Mars for more than 7 months waiting for landing so that it can find signs of any ancient life on a planet that is alien to us. Considering that a woman of Indian origin had such a large and crucial role to play in perhaps one of the most important missions on planet Earth, we are going to learn more about her life story and how she managed to reach the position that is in today.
The NASA scientists had migrated to the United States of America from India when she was one. She spent most of her childhood in the Northern Virginia section of the Washington DC metro area. Dr Mohan completed her graduation in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Cornell University, which is one of the best Ivy League colleges in America. That is not all because she also went for a postgraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She even got her Doctorate degree from the same institution later on.
According to her life story, she had an interest in astronomy from a very young age. As seen in most people who are interested in the field of astronomy, NASA Dr Swati Mohan also had an interest in stuff related to space since she was nine. She said that it was during that time she saw the movie Star Trek, which piqued her interest in science and space. However, this didn’t actually translate into the choice of having a life-long career. She also mentioned that till the age of 16, her dream was to become a paediatrician and she didn’t think seriously about space as a subject.
However, it was one physics lecture that successfully managed to change the entire course of her career and life. After that point in time, she was more than fascinated with the idea of space and astronomy. During that time, she made the decision to pursue a degree in engineering because she saw it as a definite means to pursue a career in the field that she was interested in. After completing her Doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she soon joined the team of NASA as a Missions Operation Systems Engineer in the year 2004.
After working on several crucial projects over the years, she slowly managed to climb up in terms of position in the organisation. Soon, she was selected to be a part of the very crucial and elaborate Mars Mission Program. She also worked on the Cassini Mission for Saturn. At present, Dr Mohan is posted as the Guidance, Navigation, and Controls Operations Lead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA which is situated in Pasadena, California. She is the one who had to make sure that the Perseverance Rover was right on track and in the correct position throughout the entirety of the mission.
Mohan, who successfully managed to spearhead the entire development of the attitude control as well as the landing system of the Perseverance Rover was amongst the team of scientists that was tasked with this important mission. According to the data presented to the public, the attitude control system is a very crucial part of the mission that helps in pointing the rover in the correct direction and places it exactly where it is supposed to be. It also helps in figuring out where the spacecraft is supposed to be oriented in space. So, there is no doubt about the fact that she had a lot of responsibility in our hands. The good news is that she managed to execute the mission perfectly and make both India and the United States of America proud of her calibre and excellence.
After learning NASA Swati Mohan Mars mission story, it is not an understatement to say that she is an inspiration to a lot of young girls everywhere. She teaches us that we should always pursue our dreams no matter the challenges and hardships that we come across in life. When you have a passion, a dream that is so big that it doesn’t let you sleep, you have to work hard to achieve it, just like Dr Mohan managed to achieve her dream of working with space science. There is no one stopping you from tasting success and all you have to do is work hard and show the world the talent that you have.