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'Part Of Who I Am': NASA's Dr Swati Mohan On Bindi Buzz After Perseverance's Mars Landing

Author: Joel Kurian
Publication: Republicworld.com
Date: February 23, 2021
URL:    https://www.republicworld.com/india-news/general-news/part-of-who-i-am-nasas-dr-swati-mohan-on-bindi-buzz-after-perseverances-mars-landing.html

Dr Swati Mohan reacted to the buzz generated online over her bindi as the Indian-origin scientist lead NASA's Perseverance rover mission.

Dr Swati Mohan made even the citizens of India proud as the Indian-origin NASA scientist led the Perseverance rover landing mission. Apart from the successful landing of the rover on the red planet, a talking point on social media had been the bindi that she wore on her forehead while headlining the global stream of the touchdown. Dr Mohan stated that it was something she wore since childhood, a part of who she was and that it was not a ‘special statement.’

Dr Swat Mohan on wearing a bindi during Perseverance rover landing streaming

Dr Swati Mohan had been praised for wearing a bindi, that represented her culture during the streaming from the control room. Some had also shared their memories of being bullied for wearing the accessory.

When asked about it in an interview with Republic TV, Dr Swati Mohan said, “I have worn a bindi since I was a little girl. To me, it is part of who I am and that’s why I wore it that day. It wasn’t a special statement."

"All my colleagues at JPL (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) are quite used to seeing me dress like that, there was nothing unusual for any of us," she added.

The scientist continued, "I can sympathise with those who were teased as I myself was growing up. But my family was always there to support me; to reiterate why we follow these cultures, what it means and understanding what the purpose of it is. Where it came in the heritage was a large part of being comfortable with myself in order to follow those beliefs because of why we do them.”

Dr Swati Mohan is employed with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and held the position of the Mars 2020 Guidance, Navigation, & Control Operations Lead for the Perseverance Rover Mission. The scientist has been involved with many other robotic missions of NASA exploring Earth, now Mars and other planets in the solar system including the gas giant Saturn. The Perseverance rover landed on the Mars surface on Thursday and was greeted with cheers by the scientist and other members of the team, and across the world.

The biggest and most advanced rover ever sent by NASA seeks to investigate if life existed on Mars. The rover’s 7-foot (2-meter) arm will drill down the Martian surface to collect rock samples that could give leads on possible signs of bygone microscopic life. It also carries a helicopter robot.


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