Fascination with space began with Star Trek: Indian-American aerospace engineer Swati Mohan
Washington: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist Swati Mohan, who played a key role in the successful landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on the Martian surface, told President Joe Biden on Thursday that her fascination with space began she watched the first episode of Star Trek as a child.
"My path actually started way back when as a child, I was watching the first episode of Star Trek. 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 a new life," the Indian-American scientist told Biden during a virtual interaction.
Interacting with the President, Mohan said, "You know, Perseverance is my first mission at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), where I've 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. To be able to call touchdown safely, to see those first images come back from Mars, to see the place where we have never been able to go to on Mars before and go there -- reach there for the express purpose of seeking out new life just made it feel like I was living in a dream," said the Indian-American aerospace engineer.
"Now that tremendous relief has passed for the team of being able to be there safely, all that's left is the excitement and the thrill of all the scientific discoveries that are yet to come and what Perseverance can actually find -- and hopefully find those signs of past life on Mars," Mohan said.
Earlier, President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) congratulated the NASA team responsible for the success of the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars earlier this month.
He lauded the team at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/California Institute of Technology, including Dr Swati Mohan, the Indian-American aerospace engineer, who was one of the many people who spearheaded the development and the landing system for the rover.
Biden while speaking to Dr Mohan in a video conference call said that the India-Americans are "taking over the country". Mohan thanked Biden for interacting with them, but the President said he was honoured to interact with the team.
"This is an incredible honor. Indian -- of descent -- Americans are taking over the country. You (Mohan), my Vice President (Kamala Harris), my speechwriter (Vinay Reddy) I tell you what. But thank you. You guys are incredible," Biden told Dr Mohan.
Dr Mohan, who skilfully landed the spacecraft, works at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She is one of the many Indian women scientists, engineers and missile developers, who are leaving a trail for future generations.