When Anita Sengupta was a little girl, she dreamed of time travel aboard the TARDIS, along with Tom Baker, her favourite incarnation of Dr Who. It was this and watching episodes of Star Trek with her dad, which led her to study science and later still, to gain a degree in aerospace engineering from an American University. If she could not build a TARDIS, she would build the next best thing – space craft, capable of reaching other planets. A few years later, still in her 20s, Anita was put in charge of a team at JPL, Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Her mission was to design and develop the supersonic parachute which helped put Nasa’s Curiosity Rover onto the surface of Mars in 2012. It was the most sophisticated lander ever built and the plan to get it safely down the surface of the red planet was little short of crazy. Her team’s motto was 'Dare Mighty Things'.
Kevin Fong talks to Anita about her work, her passion and about the lessons one must learn from failure as well as success in order to explore the unknown. She tells Kevin why Mars has revived Nasa’s fortunes and transformed how we think about our place in the Universe.
(Photo: Anita Sengupta. Credit: Nasa)
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