A NASA professor is reportedly controlling the Mars Perseverance rover from a one-bedroom flat above a hair salon in South London. According to a Daily Mail report, the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic has forced Sanjeev Gupta, an Indian-origin British geologist, to work from home while Perseverance rover is getting ready for exploring the Martian surface after safely landing in the Jezero Crater.

The mission control is at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, where the Perseverance rover was built. “I should be at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, in a series of offices each one about three times bigger than this lounge, full of hundreds of scientists and engineers with their heads buried in laptops surrounded by large screens,” Gupta told the British daily.

The 55-year-old geology expert at the Imperial College of London has been a part of NASA’s Mars exploration program for a long time. He was a participating scientist and long term science planner on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover mission for exploring Gale Crater. Gupta has co-authored a study on the existence of an ancient lakebed in Gale Crater which was published in Science journal in 2015.

Jezero crater has also been determined as an ancient lakebed that dried up as the climate of the planet changed. Perseverance rover will be used to explore the rocks and return samples through future missions. Gupta and his colleagues will start directing the rover to various spots to drill the required samples.

The team is currently working round the clock, prompting the professor to rent an apartment in Lewisham so his family can enjoy undisturbed sleep in the nearby home, reported the Daily Mail. His flat has five computers and two other screens for Zoom-style meetings with fellow scientists.

Meanwhile, the Perseverance rover has been sending back photographs of the landing site to mission control and NASA recently released the first 360-degree panorama taken by Mastcam-Z, a dual-camera system equipped with a zoom function.

The Mastcam-Z sent 142 individual images after rotating its mast 360 degrees on the third Martian day of the mission and the US space agency stitched them together to create the instrument's first 360-degree panorama.