Indian-Origin Bob Balaram Behind Nasa’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter’s Historic Flight

Chennai: Nasa’s ambitious miniature robot helicopter Ingenuity became the first powered flight on another planet when it took flight above the dusty surface of Mars on Monday. In the entire process, one Indian-origin engineer Bob Balaram was involved as the chief engineer. Balaram has been working with Nasa for 20 years.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter is the first such powered, controlled flight by an aircraft over the surface of another planet. Nasa marked it as a 21st-century Wright Brothers moment with this on Monday, reported India Today.

IIT-Madras alumnus from the 1975-80 batch, Bob Balaram is the chief engineer of the Ingenuity. He did B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering at the IIT-Madras.

Bob Balaram studied MS, Computer and System Engineering from the USA’s oldest technological research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He completed his PhD from the same institute.

His interest in space and science was developed by the Apollo Moon landing mission.

The IIT-Madras alumnus is currently working at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Mars Helicopter Scout Project as a chief engineer.

Bob previously researched precision landing methods for Mars besides working on advanced simulation techniques for planetary entry, descent, and landing (EDL), the report said.

He also led the team that developed a high-fidelity EDL simulator while working with Nasa.

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