The Unstoppable Forces Behind India’s Mission Mangal

It was September 24, 2014, Mangalyaan Spacecraft successfully entered Mars, making ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) only the fourth space agency to do so after the United States, the Soviet Union, and the European Space Agency. A dedicated team of 500 scientists and engineers worked day and night for eighteen months to write history. No other country except India, including the most technically advanced nations, had successfully accomplished an interplanetary mission in its first attempt. ISRO spent Rs. 450 Crore on this mission which was one-tenth of what NASA spent on its MAVEN mission.  

The mission was led by one of India’s most distinguished scientists, a Padam Bhushan, K. Radhakrishnan, who was heading the ISRO at that time.  Along with him, there was a team including Ritu Karidhal, Nandini Harinath, Anuradha TK, Moumita Dutta, and Minal Rohit 

without whose contribution, India wouldn’t have been able to realise Mission Mangal. 

Ritu Karidhal, Deputy Operation Director, Mangalyaan  

Ritu Karidhal, who is currently assisting ISRO with its second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, is known as India’s ‘Rocket Woman’ for her contributions to space exploration. Ritu, according to her, has always been interested in space. She told the BBC that she had been fascinated by the night sky since she was a youngster. 

She used to attentively follow all advancements concerning the Indian space agency as a science student. According to the BBC, Ritu sought for a position at ISRO immediately after receiving her doctoral degree. As they say, the rest is history.

Nandini Harinath, Project Manager & Deputy Operations Director, Mangalyaan

Nandini, the daughter of a math teacher and an engineer, was introduced to science through Star Trek. According to a BBC interview with the woman behind Mangalyaan, employment at ISRO was her first job application, and she has been with the institution for well over 20 years. In Minnie Vaid’s book, Nandini questions why “female scientists get so much extra attention when her male colleagues also work equally hard.” 

Anuradha TK,  Project Director, ISRO

Anuradha TK, who was born in Bengaluru in 1961, is the project director for ISRO’s communication satellites. Anuradha has also worked on the launch of the GSAT-12 and GSAT-10 satellites and the Mars expedition. She graduated from the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in electronics.

Anuradha is one of India’s most honoured female space scientists. She was awarded the ‘Space Gold Medal’ by the Aeronautical Society of India in 2003 for her contributions to space sciences.

The IEI’s National Design and Research Forum awarded her the ‘Suman Sharma’ award in 2011. She received two further honours in 2012: the ASI-ISRO Merit Award for developing indigenous telecommunications spacecraft and the ISRO team award for being the project lead for GSAT-12.

Moumita Dutta, Project Manager for Mangalyaan

Moumita Dutta, a physicist at the Space Applications Centre, is an expert in creating and testing optical and infrared sensors/instruments/payloads for space missions. She was in charge of one of the Mangalyaan payloads. According to WIRED, Dutta was the Project Manager for the Methane Sensor for Mars and was in charge of developing the entire optical system – optimisation, characterisation, and calibration of the sensor.

Minal Rohit, Project Manager and System Engineer for Mangalyaan

Minal, who was born in Kolkata, received a gold medal in electronics and communication engineering from the Nirma Institute of Technology and Science in Ahmedabad. She began her career at ISRO as a Satellite Communications Engineer and then became the project manager and systems engineer for Mangalyaan, where she was involved in the integration of payload components.

Leave a Reply