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Indian origin man driving NASA rover from rented flat in London

Nearly after seven months after the takeoff, NASA’s  Perseverance rover landed on the Mars. The rover made history after landing successfully on the Mars’ Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. Ever since it got launched, it had sent several amazing images of the landing site. The main job of Perseverance rover is to seek signs of ancient life and collect samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) for possible return to Earth.  One of the interesting facts about the Perseverance rover is that, it is controlled by an Indian-origin doctor from London.

Professor Sanjeev Gupta is a scientist with NASA. This $ 3 billion Mars mission is being controlled by Professor Gupta from his rented one-bedroom apartment in London. Professor Sanjeev Gupta was supposed to be in California at the mission control unit but, due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions, he could not be there on time.

Talking to the Daily Mail, Professor Sanjeev Gupta said, “I should be at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, in a series of offices each one about three times bigger than this lounge, full of hundreds of scientists and engineers with their heads buried in laptops surrounded by large screens.”

When he found out that, he cannot make it to the mission control unit in California, Sanjeev Gupta decided to rent out a one-bedroom apartment above a hairdresser in Lewisham. Sanjeev Gupta lives with his wife and children and he did not wanted to disturb them or their sleep and that is the reason why he rented out this one bed room apartment. Professor Gupta has converted the  apartment into a mini control room with five computers and two other screens for video conferences with fellow scientists at NASA.

This mission is accompanied by a team of almost 400 scientists and Professor Sanjeev Gupta is directing the Perseverance rover to drill for samples on Mars. These samples will be packed and transported back to Earth on a separate mission. These samples are expected to reach Earth by 2027. Professor Sanjeev Gupta is a geology expert at London’s Imperial College.

Few days ago, US space agency NASA had released a video where the Rover was landing on the red planet. The Perseverance rover also captured the crackling wind noise on Mars and it was the first audio from the planet. Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet. Perseverance is also ferrying several cutting-edge technologies to the surface of Mars – including a helicopter
named Ingenuity, the first aircraft to attempt powered, controlled flight on another planet.

It is the first rover that will be collecting samples and bring it back to Earth in a future mission. Perseverance’s drill will cut intact rock cores that are about the size of a piece of chalk and will place them in sample tubes that it will store until the rover reaches an appropriate drop-off location on Mars. The rover could also potentially deliver the samples to a lander that is part of the planned Mars sample return campaign.