If Curiosity had Bobak, then Perseverance had Swati.
The dignified and composed running commentary from one of the mission’s leaders has observers around the world taking notice.
Swati Mohan is the lead of guidance and control operations for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. It implies that she has been entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that the spacecraft carrying the Perseverance rover is aimed in the right direction. As Perseverance came in for its high-stakes landing on Thursday, Mohan provided much of the commentary too from mission control in the process of its tense entry, descent, and landing.
"The spacecraft @NASAPersevere is currently transmitting heartbeat tones — these tones indicate that Perseverance is operating normally."— NASA (@NASA) February 18, 2021
Swati Mohan, @NASAJPL engineer on the rover's landing team, provides a status update on the #CountdownToMars: pic.twitter.com/D1Tx9BEYld
As a NASA veteran who was also on the Cassini mission, she has been on the Mars 2020 team since near its beginning in 2013.
She walked the world through the steps of slowing a spacecraft down from over 12,000 miles per hour for a soft landing in an ancient crater, Swati’s star began shining on social media. Mohan’s family relocated from India to the United States when she was a year old. A bindi could be spotted on her forehead as she coolly announced every step of Perseverance’s journey through her mask in mission control.
listen.— Anuradha Damale (@anulikesstars) February 18, 2021
i wore a bindi through primary school and got bullied, physically bullied, for it. this is doing all kinds of things to me. 🥲
swati mohan in mission control, thank you. #NASAPerseverance
She wore a bindi through primary school and got physically bullied for it.
Less evident was the dyed braid in her hair she sported for the historic event, but it also became famous. According to astrophysicist Karan Jani, Dr. Swati Mohan has motivated a new generation of scientists today.
Congrats to Mohan and the rest of the Mars 2020 team on a successful landing. Can’t wait to follow the surface phase of the mission.