Dangers When NASA Rover Will Try To Touch Down On Mars
“Wouldn’t a NASA rover crash into a steep mountain on Mars?” Can’t you get stuck in the notch of the very high mountains? Wouldn’t that dream, which cost 2.7 billion, be broken? “
Swati’s voice could be heard trembling in excitement. Swati Mohan, daughter of Bangalore, is now the Head of Guidance, Navigation and Control Operations (GN&C) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). In Swati’s words, “guidance, navigation and control are the eyes and ears of any spacecraft.”
NASA spacecraft flew to the Red Planet on July 30. From then on, which path will the NASA spacecraft take in space? Which route is safer than that? The less complicated path, the less time it takes to take that rover forward, the main responsibility was on Swati’s shoulders. NASA’s spacecraft has been able to safely enter the distant orbit of the Red Planet after 6 and a half months of success in that guidance and navigation work.
A few days later, the ordeal of Swati
And at the end of 8 days (February 18) this time Swati will have to give ‘Agnipriksha’. “I’m already in impossible tension,” he said. That horrible seven-minute tension. Which is called, ‘Seven Minutes of Terror’. Entry, descent, and landing. Entering Mars’s innermost orbit, slowly slowing down the spacecraft so that the red planet’s gravitational force does not bounce (descent) and finally safely touching the chest of Mars. “
Any major accident can happen in those seven minutes. And in that case, Swati or his colleagues in the JPL will have nothing to do. Because, it will take at least 11 minutes for the news of the accident to reach the earth from far away Mars.
Why could NASA Rover Perseverance crash?
Swati said that the place where Perseverance is supposed to 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 low there.
High mountain peaks at a distance of 300 or 400 meters. So our dreams can be shattered at any moment if we don’t understand the place in a very perfect way before landing. NASA landers and rovers can crash into high mountains. Even if it gets stuck in the crevice of the mountain, it can become useless forever.
One of the responsibilities that NASA has given to Swati this time is to safely land Perseverance on the red planet Jejoro Crater. So now Swati is in intense tension.
What did Swati do for the safe landing of the rover?
“We have developed a special type of Lander Vision System (LVS),” said the Bangalore girl. The LVS will be launched whenever the lander and rover take off from the spacecraft and 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) that 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 behind this approach is called Terrain-Relative Navigation (TRN).
From Bangalore to Mars.
Swati migrated to America with her mother and father a year after her birth in Bangalore. 35 years ago today. In 1996. Growing up after that, studying all over America. He grew up in North Virginia and Washington DC. After earning a Bachelor of Science (BS) from Cornell University in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Swati holds a Masters of Science (MS) in Aeronautics and Astronomy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From there the Ph.D.
Swati also played a key role in the earlier missions of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft to Saturn and Grail to the moon.
Mars left the dream of becoming a pediatrician
Swati said that her father used to dream of becoming a pediatrician since he was a doctor. After watching ‘Star Trek’ at the age of 18, that dream changed. From then on, the universe began to pull him terribly.
“I go to India every three to five years. We still have a house in Bangalore. Mom and Dad go there every year and spend a few months there. My husband Santosh, a microbiologist and pediatrician, also lives in Bangalore, ”said Swati, a mother of two daughters.
photo credit : nasa