Aditya-L1: Meet ISRO’s women scientists who helmed India’s first Solar mission

Image Source : INDIA TV Meet ISRO’s women scientists who helmed India’s first Solar mission Aditya-L1

Aditya-L1 launch: Women power at the Indian space agency is slowly coming to the fore and that too in the interplanetary missions. The latest is Nigar Shaji, Project Director for Aditya-L1 mission, India’s mission to the Sun.

Nigar Shaji: Know more about woman scientist of ISRO

A native of Shengottai in Tamil Nadu, the 59-year-old Shaji did her schooling in a government school there. A bright student- she stood district first in her 10th standard and school first in her 12th standard.

Completing her engineering degree in a college in Tirunelveli, Shaji completed M Tech from Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi and then joined the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Over the years she was involved in various projects and the responsibility of heading Aditya-L1 came to her about eight years back. 

“I have been heading this complex project for eight years. It was a challenging project. To place the spacecraft in the halo orbit itself is a major challenge. Further, the payloads were also first of its kind,” Shaji told media.

She said her husband, a mechanical engineer, is working in Dubai, son a Ph.D is working in Netherlands and daughter is a qualified doctor and is studying post graduation. It may be recalled that two women played a key role in the Chandrayaan-2 mission viz., the Project Director M Vanitha and the Mission Director Ritu Karidhal Srivastava.

Similarly in the case of Chandrayaan-3, Kalpana, Deputy Director played a key role.

Annapurni Subramaniam:

As the launch vehicle carrying Aditya L1, the country’s maiden solar mission, lifted off successfully from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, Annapurni Subramaniam, director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, said the mission will be the first to probe into the innermost part of the Sun- Corona.

Speaking to media moments before the launch of the country’s maiden solar mission, Subramaniam said, “We have boarded the main instrument on board the launch vehicle carrying Aditya L1. It is the Visible Line Emission Coronagraph (VELC). It will enable an unobstructed view of the Sun.”

“It will observe the Sun in the state of an eclipse all the time. This will be the first mission, which will take a close look at the innermost part of the Sun, the Corona,” she added.

Know more about Aditya-L1 mission:

The spacecraft will be placed in a halo orbit around the Lagrange point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system, allowing continuous viewing of the sun without any eclipses or obstructions. Mayank N Vahia, a retired professor from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, told media that the last solar mission that went to the L1 point was launched five years before Aditya L1.

“The mission will observe the Sun simultaneously in optical, UV, and X-rays,” he added.

The launch vehicle will carry seven different payloads, which will conduct a detailed study of the sun. Four of the payloads will observe the light from the Sun while the other three will measure in-situ parameters of the plasma and magnetic fields.

L1 is 1.5 million km away from the Earth in the direction of the sun. It is expected to cover the distance in four months’ time. Major objectives of India’s solar mission include the study of the physics of solar corona and its heating mechanism, the solar wind acceleration, coupling and dynamics of the solar atmosphere, solar wind distribution and temperature anisotropy, and origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) and flares and near-earth space weather.

The Aditya-L1 mission holds the promise of significantly advancing our understanding of the Sun’s behaviour and its interactions with Earth and the space environment.On August 23, India took a giant leap as the Chandrayaan-3 lander module touched down successfully on the moon’s South Pole, entering the record books as the first country to have achieved the historic feat.

India also became only the fourth country after the US, China, and Russia to have successfully placed a lander on the moon’s surface. 

(With agencies inputs) 

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