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Indian origin man Prof. Sanjeev Gupta driving NASA’s Mars rover from London

Nearly seven months after takeoff, NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars. On  February 18, it  successfully made history by landing on Mars. Rover's main job is to look for signs of ancient life and collect rock and regolith samples for a possible return to Earth.

Ever since this Rover's  launch many amazing pictures of the landing site have been. But quietly hidden from public view is the story of an Indian-origin doctor from London who is part of a team that is remotely controlling the movement of Perseverance on Mars.

Professor Sanjeev Gupta is a scientist with NASA. He is a geology expert at London’s Imperial College. This $3 billion Mars mission is being controlled by Professor Gupta from his rented one-bedroom apartment in London. Professor Gupta was supposed to be in California's Mission Control Unit, but due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, he could not arrive on time.

In an interview to the Daily Mail Professor 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 Prof. Gupta found out that he would not be able to reach the Mission Control Unit in California, he decided to rent a one-bedroom apartment in Lewisham. Sanjeev Gupta did not want his family to suffer because of him, so he rented this one-bed room apartment.

With the help of five computers and two other screens in the apartment, he works through video conferences with fellow scientists at NASA. The mission is a team of 400 scientists and Professor Sanjeev Gupta is directing the rover to drill samples on Mars. The purpose of drilling these samples is that these samples will be packed and taken back to Earth on a separate mission. These samples are expected to reach Earth by 2027.

Perseverance is the most sophisticated rover that NASA has sent to the red planet. A few days ago NASA released a video showing the rover landing on mars. The rover also captured hoarse wind noise on Mars and was the first audio from the planet. Perseverance rover is also ferrying many cutting-edge technologies for the surface of Mars – including the Ingenuity helicopter, the first aircraft to attempt a controlled flight, operated on another planet.

This will be the first rover that will collect samples and bring it back to Earth in future missions. The rover could also potentially deliver the samples to a lander that is part of the planned Mars sample return campaign.