UCLA aerospace engineering alumna, Melony Mahaarachchi ’09, can add another win to her career achievements with the successful landing of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in February.
As a lead mechanical, robotics and rocket engineer during her time at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), Mahaarachchi and her team were responsible for designing the car-sized rover’s first fully-digitalized electrical subsystem, a complex undertaking that resulted in design improvements adopted for future NASA missions.
Born in Sri Lanka, Mahaarachchi moved to the United States in 2003 with her husband and two children, and pursued an aerospace engineering degree at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.
After UCLA, Mahaarachchi joined SpaceX, a top-tier private aerospace company founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk. She then briefly worked at Boeing before joining JPL on the Mars Rover 2020 mission in…