Indian-American Dr Swati Mohan made headlines when it was revealed that she played a pivotal role in the successful landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18. She is the guidance and controls operations lead for the Perseverance rover mission.
During a virtual interaction with US President Joe Biden, she spoke about the fact that her path to the premier US station began when she watched Star Trek as a child. “In addition to those fantastical scenes of space, what really captured my attention was this really close-knit team which was working together, manipulating this technological marvel with the sole purpose of exploring space and understanding new things and seeking new life,” Mohan said.
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Biden congratulated Mohan and the team for the successful landed and stated that he was in awe of the mission. “You know, perseverance is my first mission at JPL, where I have gotten to work from the very beginning of formulation, all the way through operations, and it made me feel like I was part of that crew. Being able to work with this incredibly diverse, talented team that has become like a family, spending years creating our own technological marvel has been a privilege.”
“Those last days and weeks leading up to landing day, it was pretty smooth, but we were all still really nervous and, frankly, terrified until we got through those final seven minutes,” Mohan added.
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She further thanked the President for taking out time to speak with the team, to which he said, “Are you kidding me? What an honour this is. This is an incredible honour. And it's amazing. Indian - of descent - Americans are taking over the country: you (Swati Mohan), my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speech writer Vinay (Reddy). I tell you what. But thank you. You guys are incredible.”