Meet Dr Swati Mohan, Indian American, leading NASA’s Perseverance Rover Landing on Mars

Dr Swati Mohan is NASA’s Operations Lead for the Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation, and Controls (GN&C). The Indian-American scientist has been dedicatedly leading the development of attitude control and the landing system for the rover.


Dr Mohan is the key person who has been continuously communicating and coordinating between the GN&C subsystem and the rest of the project’s team. Apart from being the lead systems engineer during the development process, she also looks after the team and schedules the mission control staffing for GN&C.


A Little More About The Indian Scientist

  • Dr Mohan emigrated from India to America when she was one-year-old. She has spent most of her childhood in Northern Virginia-Washington DC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering from Cornell University and completed her M.S. and PhD from MIT in Aeronautics/Astronautics.

  • At 16, she wanted to be a paediatrician, although she was always interested in space, but didn’t really know about opportunities to turn that interest into a job. She says, “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 easy. That was when I really considered engineering, as a way to pursue space.”

  • After watching Star Trek she was enamoured with the vastness of space. She said “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,” quoted from NASA’s official website.

  • Swati has been a member of the Perseverance Rover mission since the beginning at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA., Dr Mohan has also been a part of various important missions from NASA.

  • The Indian-American Scientist worked on projects Cassini (a mission to Saturn) and GRAIL (a pair of formation flown spacecraft to the Moon).

What Sets Her Apart?

The fact that the Indian-American scientist even after growing up in the US is thoroughly close to her Indian upbringing and roots. Most of the time she can be seen wearing her Indian culturea bindi on her forehead – with pride.

Her bindi could be seen even when she was leading the landing operation last night.

By Prakriti S

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