LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The successful landing of NASA’s rover Perseverance on Mars has inspired researchers at Western Michigan University who are developing new technology to make further missions to the Red Planet and beyond a reality.
“I have a quarantine buddy, and we had a party,” said Margaret Mooney, a Ph.D. student at WMU’s College of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Kalamazoo. “We put on the live stream and were really enjoying it and cheering the NASA engineers on while watching it.”READ MORE: Lafayette Shon Whaley Ordered To Stand Trial In Shooting Of Lady Gaga's Dog Walker
Mooney’s area of study is electric propulsion devices, something she calls the “Tesla of the space world.” Electric propulsion devices don’t provide as much thrust compared to their chemical counterparts but they’re much more efficient, making them key for getting us deeper into space.
“So the stuff that I do research on is going to be used on critical path NASA missions right now,” she tells CBS affiliate WWMT.
— News Channel 3 WWMT-TV (@wwmtnews) February 26, 2021READ MORE: Police Investigating Shooting Near Eagle Rock Dispensary
Western Michigan University has a vacuum chamber that is able to create essentially a little bubble of space for Mooney and other researchers to run their tests.
“So being able to see something that I work on is just so cool to see that in space,” she says. “That’s a big dream of mine — to see something I’m working on going into space.”
After working over the summer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Mooney was awarded with a NASA Space Technology Graduate Research Opportunity. The fellowship funds her Ph.D. as well as her research on WMU’s campus.MORE NEWS: Princess Cruises Plans To Set Sail From LA This Fall
Mooney will finish her Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in another three years. From there, she plans to pursue her life-long dream of working at NASA and helping to land rovers and other spacecraft on Mars and beyond.