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Bob Balaram, an IIT-Madras alumnus, the man behind NASA’s ingenious Mars helicopter flight

The man behind the Mars ingenuity helicopter who worked with NASA for 20 years is Dr. J.(Bob) Balaram, an engineer of Indian descent.

The ingenuity of NASA’s ambitious miniature robotic helicopter flew over the surface of Mars on Monday, It became the first powered aircraft to fly to another planet. Interestingly, Bob Balaram, an engineer of Indian descent, worked with NASA for 20 years with his talent.

Ingenuity the Mars helicopter is the first, controlled aircraft to fly over the surface of another planet. With this, NASA marked Monday as the 21st century Wright Brothers moment.

Dr. J.(Bob) Balaram, an IIT-Madras alumnus from the 1975-80 batches, is a talented Chief Engineer. He studied B.Tech, Mechanical Engineering in a prestigious institute.

After IIT-Madras, Bob Balaram did his MS, Computer System Engineering from the Rensselaer polytechnic  institute, the oldest technical research university in the United States. He also completed his PhD from the same institute. The Apollo Moon landing mission showed his interest in space science.

20 years of experience with NASA

Bob Balaram, who has 20 years of experience with NASA, is currently working with NASA as Chief Engineer on the Mars Helicopter Scout Project at his Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In the past, Bob has researched precise landing methods for Mars. Studies on advanced simulation methods for planetary entry, descent, and landing (EDL). While working with NASA, Bob Balaram led the team that developed the reliable EDL simulator. Simulation has been used in Curiosity Perseverance rover missions.

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