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"Landing Confirmed!" Meet the Indian-American scientist who led NASA's profitable rover touchdown

She was also the first to confirm that the rover survived its landing on the Red Planet. "Touchdown confirmed! Perseverance is safe on the surface of Mars and ready to search for the signs of past life," said Mohans of Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. According to her NASA biography, Mohan serves as operations manager as the primary communication point between the Guidance, Navigation and Control subsystem and the rest of the project.

"The spacecraft Perseverance is currently broadcasting heartbeat tones. These tones indicate that Perseverance is operating normally and has nothing significant to report," Mohan said as she provided updates on the rover's status. A. Video Shared by NASA, Mohan features a small bindi on his forehead – a Hindu symbol that was quickly noticed by Twitter users worldwide.

Many didn't just go to Twitter applaud Mohan's achievements and coverage of the landing, but to notice she was wearing the bindi was a proud moment of representation and encouragement for those who have been bullied or afraid To be worn openly in the US The tiny but powerful symbol she wore gave Indian Americans hope that the country is moving further away from xenophobia.


– love how my twitter feed loves space gains
– It is striking how much more diverse NASA is than the years of whites in a given age group
– This is Dr. Swati Mohan, who wears no less a bindi – particularly resonant memories of racist / anti-immigrant "dotbusters" #Perseverance

– Tanvi Madan (@tanvi_madan) February 18, 2021

Throughout American history, those who have worn symbols or clothing based on beliefs have been discriminated against. For Indian Americans, the 1980s was full of hate crimes against women and girls who wore bindis on their foreheads. A hate group called "Dotbuster"Attacked Those Who Wore the Symbol That Contains the Philosophy of Hinduism of"third inner eye. ”

Outside of her bindi, some Twitter users noticed that Mohan had also colored her hair for the occasion.


The EDL family voted and I pulled the straw to dye my hair as per their request for landing day. 7 hours to entry. Landing at approximately 12:55 p.m. At JPL and ready to go!

– Swati Mohan (@DrSwatiMohan) February 18, 2021

Mohan, an immigrant to the United States, made a splash on social media not only for these symbols but also for her amazing career. Mohan came to the United States as a toddler and grew up in the Washington DC area. She holds a BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Cornell University and a MSc and PhD from MIT in aeronautics / astronautics. According to her NASA bio, the mission to Mars wasn't her first – Mohan has worked on several NSASA projects, including Cassini and GRAIL.

"I've been on perseverance longer than at any school. I've been on perseverance longer than my younger daughter is living," she said USA Today Network Florida Today Newspaper. "It has taken so much of my life for so long."

According to her NASA BioWhile she was interested in space, she didn't know what job opportunities there were for someone like her, so she wanted to be a pediatrician by the age of 16. "When I was 16, I took my first physics class. I was lucky enough to have a great teacher and everything was so understandable and simple. At that time, I was really thinking about engineering to study space," it says in her biography.

“I remember watching my first episode of 'Star Trek' at the age of 9 and seeing the beautiful renderings of the new regions of the universe they were exploring. I remember thinking about it I want to do this. I want to find new ones. " and beautiful places in the universe. & # 39; The vastness of space contains so much knowledge that we have only just begun to learn. "

Mohan's brilliant work and dedication shed light on NASA's progress in reflecting on the nation it represents. Since its inception in 1958, NASA has not hired just white men by a long way Colored people and women over the years. According to NASA workforce dataWhile 72% of the workforce are white, 12% identify as black, 7% as Asian-American, 8% as Latin American and 1% as indigenous. While there is still progress, this historic moment reminds us that immigrants and people of color will no longer be hidden figures.

"Diversity is a trademark of NASA – after all, without it we wouldn't be the agency we are." Clayton Turner, the first black director of NASA's Langley Research Center, said in one Explanation.

Mohan's primary commitment gives hope to young scientists across the country. While she may be one of the first to achieve what she has, she certainly won't be the last. Congratulations to Mohan and the rest of the Mars 2020 team on a successful landing.

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