Mimi Aung: NASA Scientist

Mimi Aung is the Project Leader of the Mars Helicopter program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The helicopter, named Ingenuity, was on the Mars rover that was launched on 30 July 2020. It was be a memorable and momentous day for Aung whose dream since childhood has always been to reach for the stars.


Questions 1 - 6

Match the headings below with the paragraphs in the reading.

Note there are two extra headings.

i) Teamwork

ii) Designing the helicopter

iii) An American education

iv) Starting a career

v) A bright family

vi) Exploring Mars

vii) Working her way up

viii) Flight plans

Questions 7 - 10

Complete the summary with the correct tense of the verbs

Mimi Aung (7)______ (complete) her early education in Myanmar before (8)______ (attend) university in America. After graduating, she (9)______ (begin) working at NASA and after working in various divisions and sections she is now the leader of the Mars Helicopter project. Once on Mars, the helicopter will be (10)______ (undertake) short lights which will provide information for the design and development of more advanced models in the future.



Aung, 52, was born in US where her parents were studying for their PhD’s at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her mother was the first woman in Myanmar to get a PhD in math from an American university, while her father obtained a PhD in chemistry, specializing in food science. At two years of age, her parents moved back to their home country of Myanmar. Aung was a bright child and quickly advanced through her primary and high school education.


At 16 years of age, her parents arranged for her to return to US and stay with some friends in Illinois. Because she was advanced in her high school studies, she graduated after one year, and enrolled at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. It was a whirlwind beginning to her education in America, graduating from high school and enrolling in her first year of college all within 10 months of her arrival.


Aung majored in electrical engineering with a concentration in signal processing and communications. It was a passion that would carry her all the way to NASA and her dream job. So once she obtained her degree, she began looking for job opportunities in her field of study. She applied for, and secured a job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. Aung’s first job was working in the Deep Space Network with a group that turned signal processing algorithms and architectures into a real system.


Over time, Aung said the organization gave her more responsibilities and different positions. She went from working on projects based on the ground for Deep Space signal receiving, and then transferred over to the spacecraft division because of her understanding of transmitted signals. Her career has since focused on advancing capabilities of next generation spacecraft, and she moved on next to a supervisor position in the spacecraft guidance and navigation control centers, and then progressed to the next level as the section manager for all guidance and control, and finally deputy division manager for autonomous systems. It was within the deputy division manager position that the Mars Helicopter concept was born.


The first-ever rotorcraft flight on the Red Planet is, first and foremost, a technology demonstration, which will lead to the design and development of more advanced helicopters to be used for future exploration of the planet. The helicopter will fly conservatively at first to about three meters, and do two meters of lateral flights and land, and then repeat what they have flown in simulated Mars flights in the chambers on earth.


Aung says that over past six years, her team has been extraordinarily tight, with a unified goal. That goal is "to get the chance to try the very first rotorcraft flight on another planet – and on Mars. So everything we have discussed, the design efforts, the tests, all the debates we’ve had about cautions, and what we chose to go forward; everything you can imagine, and we have done it very fast. So, we are really tight. Everything we’ve done, dedicated ourselves to, is all about it’s going to work on Mars.

Full article: https://sampan.org/from-myanmar-to-mars-mimi-aung-the-project-leader-of-the-mars-helicopter-came-to-the-us-alone-at-16-for-a-better-education/

When you are ready, enter your answers in the sheet below:


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