NASA’s MARS 2020 Rover land on Mars, Indian Origin Genius Are Involved With NASA’s MARS 2020 Rover Landing. J Bob Balaram, Anubhav Dutt, Swati Mohan, and Soumya Dutt.
The historic event happened on Thursday. Between 1:30 am to 2:00 am Indian time. NASA spacecraft landed on the red planet. Namal is a state-of-the-art lander and rover ‘Perseverance‘. In search of life which will later plow the soil of the red planet.
After that, the helicopter will be flown from that lander to the sky of Mars. ‘Ingenuity’. To monitor a larger area of Mars from the sky. This is the first time that civilization has flown a helicopter to another planet.
The names of 4 people of Indian descent entered history on Thursday as they were involved in this historic event. Two of them are Bengalis again.
One of them is a woman. Swati Mohan of Bangalore. Head of Guidance, Navigation and Controls Operations (GN&C) at Perseverance.
J. Bob Balram of Bangalore is one of the remaining 3. This is the first helicopter the world has ever flown on another planet, the chief engineer of Ingenuity.
There is Anubhav Dutt. He is now a professor in the Department of Aerodynamics and Aeroelectricity at the University of Maryland. Anubhav Dutt started dreaming of flying a helicopter on the red planet 30 years ago.
And there is Soumya Dutt from Burdwan. He is one of the makers of a giant parachute construction project, as tall as 15 people standing on top of each other. NASA’sMars 2020 Rover’ Perseverance and Lander will land on Mars by pressing that parachute.
Parachute of Summya Dutta
NASA has never sent such a big parachute to the red planet before. The curiosity rover landed on the red planet 9 years ago by pressing the parachute, this time the parachute can be called ‘outdated’ in terms of technology. Without such a parachute, Mars 2020 rover and lander would not have been able to land safely on the chest of Mars.
Summya dutta of Burdwan has changed places many times since childhood due to his father’s job. He spent the first part of his school life in Dehradun and Mumbai. Then from the sixth class of a school in America. He passed his bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee and Georgia Institute of Technology. He joined NASA’s Langley Research Center as an aerospace engineer six years ago. In 2013.
image credit:Summya dutta
In the words of Soumya, “There was a special need to make such a large parachute this time. This is because no orbiter will orbit the Red Planet to land the lander and rover on Mars. The rocket on which the Mars 2020 lander and rover has been launched this time, will enter the orbit directly from Earth to Mars. After that it will start landing fast on the red planet. “
When landing on Mars, the speed of the lander and rover will be about twice the speed of sound (1.75 times). The latest parachute is needed to reduce this speed and land the rover safely on the red planet. It will take about 1 to 2 seconds to open the 21 and a half meter diameter parachute. This is the largest supersonic parachute sent to Mars. As soon as the parachute is opened, the radar camera will start taking pictures of where it is possible to land safely.
Anubhav of East Midnapore district when ‘grasshopper’ in the neighborhood
Anubhav was born in Ghaghara village of Mahishadal in the East Midnapore district. Is it possible to fly such a helicopter on a planet that has no atmosphere? This Anubhav showed that dream in an international seminar three and a half decades ago. Later, at NASA’s Ames Research Center, he was also involved in all the experiments related to the aeromechanics of the Mars mission.
An acquaintance in his neighborhood in the Midnapore district said, “We used to call him ‘Grasshopper’ because he was very naughty as a child.” I was addicted to swimming. So sometimes he would come home from Kolkata. “
Anubhav got an eleventh place in the Higher Secondary Examination in 1994 from South Point School, Kolkata. He then did B Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kharagpur. Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Anubhav is the founder of an important committee of the American Helicopter Society.
Swati from Bangalore was inspired by watching Star Trek as a child
Swati, head of Perseverance’s Guidance, Navigation and Controls Operations (GN&C), was born in Bangalore. A year after her birth, Swati moved to America with her mother and father. 35 years ago today.
In 1986. Growing up after that, studying all over America. He grew up in northern Virginia and Washington DC. Bachelor of Science (BSc) from Cornell University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Swati then did a Masters of Science (MSc) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Ph.D. from there.
Swati said that My father was a doctor so I dreamed of becoming a doctor since childhood. After watching ‘Star Trek’ at the age of 16, that dream changed. From then on, the universe began to pull him terribly.
In Swati’s words, “I go to India every 3 to 5 years. We still have a house in Bangalore. Mom and Dad go there every year and spend a few months there.
Swati had earlier played a key role in the mission of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft sent to Saturn and the Grail spacecraft sent to the moon.
Swati said that the place where Perseverance will land on Mars is called ‘Jejoro Crater’. Billions of years ago, that giant crater was created for a huge volcano. The area covers 26 miles. But the whole area is filled with very high hills. The plane is very rare there. High mountain peaks at 300 or 400 meters.
So the dream can be broken at any moment if you do not understand the place in a very perfect for landing. NASA landers and rovers can be crash into high mountains. Even if it gets stuck in the notch of the mountain, it can become useless forever.
One of the responsibilities that NASA has given to Swati this time is to safely land the Perseverance on the red planet Jejoro Crater.
“We have developed a special type of Lander Vision System (LVS),” said the Bangalore girl. LVS will be launched whenever the parachute from the spacecraft takes off and the lander and rover start landing on Mars. It’s actually Lander’s eye‘.
This work was done for so many days by the radar in the spacecraft. It would just say, which area can be landed. But this time the ‘eye’ (LVS) we have made will tell you in advance which of the areas chosen for landing is the safest. It will also tell if there are any big rocks or high mountains within 200 meters. The technology that is the basis of this method is called Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN).
That helicopter from Balaram in Bangalore
J Bob Balram, Chief Engineer, Helicopter Ingenuity, was also born in Bangalore. Passed Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)’ in Madras. After completing his Masters and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Balaram joined JPL in 1985.
During that time, NASA has sent several landers and rovers to Mars. Different areas of the red planet in search of life. At that time, the first thing that came to Balaram’s mind was to send a helicopter to Mars by pressing the lander, then the task became much easier. Balaram thinks that the helicopter will be able to complete the surveillance work in much less time than the rover can cover the area.
Balram’s fancy idea was in the beginning but it didn’t get much attention in JPL. That requires a lot of money for testing.
Balaram said that something he had thought of somehow reached the ears of the then JPL chief Charles Elachi. Lebanese Charles was an impossibly far-sighted man. But at first, he did not dare to express Balaram’s thoughts at the NASA headquarters in Washington. He began to examine for himself how effective the idea could be. But it will cost a lot of money.
In experiments, in research. Raising that money is not an easy task. It requires the approval of NASA headquarters. Which is to get a lot of wood burned. As head of the JPL, however, Charles had some power of his own to quickly allocate funds for any research or experimentation. In that sense, experimentation, research began. With the idea of sending a helicopter to Mars. From 2014. After confirming himself, Charles finally asked NASA headquarters for approval to send a helicopter to Mars in 2018. Match also for the novelty of Balaram’s thoughts.
Balaram of India has been given the responsibility of the chief engineer of the helicopter project sent with NASA Rover on Mars this time.
Balaram said, “That is 2014. Charles Elachi was then the head of our JPL. He was attending a seminar at the University of Pennsylvania at the time. There were discussions about the daily use of small drones and helicopters. Charles Elachi liked it. Back in the JPL, he started discussing whether it is possible to send something like that to Mars.
Then one of my colleagues said to Elachi, I would have thought so many years ago. Hearing that, Elachi called me. Elachi asked me to write a new research paper on what could be sent to the Mars 2020 rover. Give 10 weeks. Two and a half months. That’s the beginning. I wrote that research paper with my teammates in just 6 weeks. After that, the work progressed very fast. “
Balaram said that the first helicopter called Ingenuity was sent to the Red Planet, the size and weight of the helicopter were thought to be much less at the beginning. There is only one reason. It goes without saying that there is almost no atmosphere on Mars.
The density of the atmosphere there is only 1 percent of our atmosphere. If it is heavier and bigger in size, how will the helicopter swim or fly in the very thin atmosphere of the red planet? There was not much technology in the hands of civilization then. So it was thought that the size of the helicopter would be roughly like our one rupee coin.
He did not want to break the mystery of the initial letter of his name ‘J Bob Balaram‘. Just said, “J is the initials of my father’s name. But don’t think that the name Bob came to America. Bob is my family name. “
Nickname Balaram, but almost everyone at NASA now calls him ‘Bob’, his wife Sandy. “He has always been an inspiration to me,” Balram said. That’s why everyone in NASA calls him ‘CMO’. My wife makes all kinds of delicious food for my colleagues every day. “He didn’t keep anything secret of his own the very last episode of the interview, he said, “Good deeds, good thoughts never die. It only takes a little longer to get his recognition”.
Balaram that will win to lose himself! In the end, the victory belongs to Balram. One hundred years after the first flight of the Wright brothers to Earth, a 4-pound helicopter sent by civilization is about to fly to another planet in the solar system for Balaram of India. Bangalore’s Bob Balaram has made history as the ‘father’ of flying to another planet.
Photo and graphic-data courtesy: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center and Langley Research Center, NASA.