“I remember watching my first episode of “Star Trek” at the age of 9, and seeing the beautiful depictions of the new regions of the universe that they were exploring. I remember thinking “I want to do that. I want to find new and beautiful places in the universe.” The vastness of space holds so much knowledge that we have only begun to learn.” Dr Swati Mohan is an Indian-origin scientist who was part of the winning team put NASA’s Perseverance on Mars. A history moment not just for her and the team but for humanity. She recalls her journey in an interview with NASA.
Dr Swati Mohan is the Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation, and Controls (GN&C) Operations Lead. The GN&C subsystem is “eyes and ears” of the spacecraft. It’s her team’s job is to figure out how spacecraft is oriented, make sure it is pointed correctly in space. They help manoeuvre the craft for a safe landing.
Dr Mohan has been with NASA for nearly 11 years. She wanted to grow up to be a doctor until she was sixteen. “Actually, I wanted to be a pediatrician until I was about 16 years old. I was always interested in space, but I didn’t really know about opportunities to turn that interest into a job.” But what changed her thinking? “When I was 16, I took my first physics class.” All great learning comes from excellent teachers and Dr Mohan’s journey was no different. “I was lucky enough to have a great teacher, and everything was so understandable and easy. That was when I really considered engineering, as a way to pursue space,” she says.
Star Trek inspired this Scientist. Meet Dr Swati Mohan on NASA’s Mars Perseverance. She led the entire team responsible to land the spacecraft safely on Mars
Swati Mohan emigrated from India to the United States when she was 1 year old, and was raised in Northern Virginia / Washington DC metro area. She went to the MIT System Laboratory and researched different plant generation techniques for reconfigurable control systems, for the application to autonomous on-orbit assembly of space systems. Dr Swati Mohan is a student of Cornell University where she did Mechanical Engineering.