Mar 29, 2021
Women of Perseverance
On February 18th, 2021, the fifth Mars rover landed on Mars. The rover, Perseverance, is tasked with the job of seeking signs of ancient life and collecting samples of rock and soil for a possible return to Earth. The historic landing of Perseverance is accompanied by several amazing women on the Perseverance NASA team we want to highlight.
Kelsey Osborne
|
3 min. read

On February 18th, 2021, the fifth Mars rover landed on Mars. The rover, named Perseverance, is tasked with the job of seeking signs of ancient life and collecting samples of rock and soil for a possible return to Earth. The rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA's quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. It has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes. Eventually, these tubes may be picked up by a future mission that would return them to Earth for analysis.


The first Mars rover, Sojourner, was launched in 1997. The newest rover, Perseverance, is unique to its predecessors as it was accompanied by the first Mars helicopter. This served as a technological demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time. Every mission is historic, and it seems like a human expedition to Mars is closer than we think. 


At GrasshoppHer, we dedicated February to celebrating Women in S.T.E.M. Since S.T.E.M. is a male-dominated field, women are often left discouraged, overlooked, or unsupported in their classes or their careers. Perseverance's historic landing is accompanied by several amazing women on the Perseverance NASA team we want to highlight.



  • Mallory Lefland is an entry, descent, and landing systems engineer on the Perseverance rover team. She spent the past five years preparing for the 2021 landing. In that time, she logged thousands of hours of testing the rover. She was also worked as a systems and operations engineer on the Curiosity rover teams. 
  • Swati Mohan is the guidance and control operations lead. Her family immigrated to the United States from India, and when she was nine, she saw her first episode of “Star Trek” and was determined to get involved with outer space. She plays a crucial role in tracking the location and direction of Perseverance
  • Erisa (Hines) Stilley is also an entry, descent, and landing systems engineer. She worked on preparing the entering of Mars' atmosphere, descending to the surface, and landing the rover safely. She supported the development, testing, and operation preparations for Perseverance for the last eight years and spent some time with the rover Curiosity as well.
  • Moogega Cooper is the planetary protection lead, and her job is to keep planets, like Mars, safe from accidental contamination. Cooper is a recipient of several awards, including the NASA Early Career Public Achievement Medal, the Charles Elachi Award for Exceptional Early Career Achievement, and the JPL Voyager Awards for Technical Leadership. She also participates in public outreach by collaborating with schools and media organizations and participating in lecture series to spread the love for S.T.E.M.
  • Chloe Sackier started as an entry, descent, and landing (EDL) intern, and after graduation, she returned to the team full time. She helped run EDL simulations, supported system-level EDL tests, and worked with the Deep Space Network and Mars' orbiter teams as the EDL communications systems engineer.
  • Lisa Guan is involved in Planetary Protection implementation efforts for the Mars 2020 and InSight Missions. She didn’t know such a career existed until she applied to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 


These women made admirable contributions to science through their hard work and dedication. They paved the way for women for many years to come. Maybe one of them may end up on the red planet someday soon.