The NASA Perseverance rover safely landed on Mars after its journey from Earth. The agency confirmed at 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday. The rover landed itself flawlessly, according to the mission’s team.
Part of the mission includes a crewless helicopter named Ingenuity. Ingenuity is the first-ever helicopter flown in space.
MiMi Aung is from Myanmar. She is leading the Ingenuity project. She is a project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena.
MiMi Aung’s mother was the first woman to earn a doctoral degree in Mathematics in Myanmar. She became interested in space science whilst she was a student at a British high school. At 16, she left Myanmar and moved to the United States alone. She studied electrical engineering in college. She eventually earned her Masters degree in 1990 and joined NASA in that same year.
While the Mars Rover and Ingenuity landed successfully, protesters in Myanmar faced off against the military. Protesters have clashed with security forces and the police for a few weeks. A female protester was shot in the head. She eventually succumbed to her wounds and died in hospital yesterday. Above all, the violence seems to be growing with each week.
The protesters oppose the military coup that occurred on the 1st of February, more than a fortnight ago. They are demanding the release of Myanmar leader, Aung Sang Suu Kyi and other elected officials. Protests have been going on in major cities in the country. Requests for an end to the military coup are increasing each day.
Watching these two events unfold, one can’t help realise the irony. On the one hand, we have MiMi Aung, a Myanmar engineer leading humanity’s space exploration. On the other hand, her ancestral homeland in flames as violence sweeps across it.
Perhaps what the country needs now is some “Perseverance” and “Ingenuity”.