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Meet the Indians on the Mars Perseverance team

MELBOURNE: It took nearly two decades for Bob Balaram’s idea to take off. Sometime in the 1990s, Balaram, along with a Stanford professor, had proposed a “helicopter for Mars.” Seeing it through, however, was not possible. The technology just did not exist. A chance occurrence seven years ago, the director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) attending a talk on drones, led to a question he had the answer to — could drones fly on Mars?

“Someone remembered I had attempted this in the 1990s and recommended me. My team and I had eight weeks to prepare a proposal which led to some initial study money, which has now grown into this bold effort — the first helicopter on Mars, Ingenuity,” Balaram told TOI a week after Perseverance, NASA’s latest Mars rover, landed successfully. The deployment could take place in March.

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