With ‘Mission Mangal’ Movie Out, Here’s A Look At The Women Who Put India On Mars

Written by , Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Chaitra Krishnan Beauty & Lifestyle Enthusiast Experience: 5 years
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Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as the Mangalyaan Mission is one of India’s most prestigious achievements of all time. Even if we’re the fourth country to reach the Martian space (behind America, Europe, and Russia), we’re the first country in the world to do so in its first-ever attempt. Also, India is the only Asian country to have this achievement under its belt. And with the recently released semi-fictional movie “Mission Mangal” even the common public has gotten an opportunity to walk through the story behind the mission.

Akshay Kumar-lead Mission Mangal is definitely a movie that you cannot miss. However, it would be fair to say that those who expected a women-centric story would be disappointed with the narrative that has a male protagonist. But don’t worry because we’re going to introduce you to all the real-life female protagonists of the Mars Orbiter Mission in this article. These honorable lady scientists prove that women are capable of much more than managing a family and if they want, they can carry the dreams of a whole nation to the space on their shoulders. So, read on to know more about the women scientists who made Mangalyaan possible.

Ritu Karidhal- Deputy Operations Director For MOM

Image: Instagram @ravoof_official

Ritu Karidhal is known as the “Rocket Woman” of India and she has been an integral part of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) since 1997. Hailing from Lucknow, Ritu plays an important role in the ISRO’s latest Chandrayaan 2 mission as well. Her interest in space dates back to her childhood days. In an interview with an international news channel, Ritu said, “I used to wonder about the size of the moon, why it increases and decreases. I wanted to know what lay behind the dark spaces.”

During her student days, Ritu used to keep a close tab on the developments of the Indian Space Agency. Soon after her post-graduation, she applied for a job at the ISRO and she got hired. Since then she has worked on many missions and is considered to be among the most experienced women scientists of the organization.

Nandini Harinath- Project Manager, Mission Designer, And Deputy Operations Director For MOM

Image: Twitter

Nandini is a scientist who works at ISRO’s Satellite Center in Bangalore. As a kid, she used to watch Star Trek, the iconic American sci-fi with her family and that’s when her interest in the field developed. Nandini worked almost for 14 hours a day along with the team during the final days of the Mangalyaan mission since the million-dollar project had strict deadlines. In an interview, she said, “It was very important for India, not just for ISRO. It put us on a different pedestal. Foreign countries are looking at us for collaborations and the importance and attention we received was justified.”

Minal Rohit- Project Manager And System Engineer For MOM

Image: Twitter

Minal played a key role in incorporating the components of the payloads as the System Engineer of MOM. She completed her Electronics and Communications Engineering from National Institutes of Technology, Ahmedabad and was the gold medallist of her batch. She joined ISRO as a Satellite Communications Engineer and currently works as a Deputy Project Manager at the organization.

Dr. Seetha Somasundaram- Programme Director, ISRO Space Science Programme Office

Dr. Seetha and her team were in charge of the proper functioning of all the payloads involved in the Mangalyaan mission. She joined the organization early in the 1980s and has contributed immensely in various projects it has undertaken. Her contributions are mainly related to the development of instruments that are required for the space projects and experiments conducted by ISRO. Dr. Seetha studied Astronomy and was particularly interested in the study of variable stars.

Anuradha T.K. – Geosat Programme Director at ISRO Satellite Centre

Image: BBC

Anuradha T.K. is ISRO’s senior-most woman officer and she has been working with the organization for 34 years! The scientist who is considered to be a role model by her female colleagues specializes in launching communication satellites to the space, thousands of miles away from our home planet. In an interview with a leading news channel, she recalls that she thought deeply about Science for the first time when she was only nine! “It was the Apollo launch when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. We had no television in those days, so I heard about it from my parents and teachers. It really ignited the imagination. I wrote a poem on a man landing on the moon in Kannada, my native language,” she said.

Moumita Dutta- Project Manager For MOM

Image: Twitter

Moumita Dutta works as a physicist for the Space Applications Centre. Being an expert in developing and testing optical sensors, she played the key role in the set up of the Methane sensor involved in the mission. She also helped develop the sensor’s optical system.

With so many women scientists coming out in the front row and taking up leadership roles in historic projects, there’s no lack of inspiration for the younger generations. Did you watch Mission Mangal? Do you think it did justice to the women leader of the Mars mission? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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