Meet the women scientists leading the Chandrayaan-2 launch
Ritu Karidhal and M Vanitha
While a technical glitch may have postponed the launch of Chandrayaan-2, India’s ambitious second lunar mission project on Monday, not all is lost. Everyone is waiting expectantly for the new launch date, and with it, India’s foray into the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced follow-up of Chandrayaan-1, which was launched 10 years ago. The main purpose of this mission is to gather information on minerals, rock formations, and water.
And what makes this mission even more special is that the Project Director and Mission Director of the Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 are both women scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India’s premier scientific organisation, leading the country’s space programmes.
Also, it is noteworthy that 30 percent of the team leading Chandrayaan-2 are all women. Who can forget the team of women scientists rejoicing at the success of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) in 2014?
As Chandrayaan-2 gets launched on a new date from Sriharikota soon, its team of women scientists will also go down in history for breaking the shackles of stereotypes and male domination in the space sector.
Ritu Karidhal is the Mission Director of Chandrayaan-2. Ritu, who hails from Lucknow, joined ISRO in 2007, and played a leading role as deputy operations director for Mangalyaan. In a TED Talk, Ritu spoke of how the Mars Orbiter Mission proved India’s capability to go into outer space.
She said, “The whole country was watching us, and it suddenly hit me that our aspirations and our expectations paled in comparison to the hopes of the country. And we saw the country’s hope being fulfilled right in front of us. I can never forget that moment. I was a simple girl from Lucknow, who was curious to know about outer space and who got a chance to be associated with the Mars Mission. With the success of the Mars mission, 1.3 billion Indians proved to the world that we have the capability to go this far into outer space and that we are as competent as anybody out there.”
M Vanitha, the Project Director of Chandrayaan-2, has also been working with ISRO for a long time. She was awarded the Best Woman Scientist Award in 2006. Prior to this mission, Vanitha headed the Telemetry and Telecommand Divisions in the Digital Systems Group, ISRO Satellite Centre. As Project Director, Vanitha is responsible for the overall smooth functioning of the mission until Chandryaan-2 reaches the moon and beyond.
Today, ISRO tweeted,
The whole country will be waiting with bated breath, until then.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)