Recently announced the poster of Ekta Kapoor’s web series MOM-Mission Over Mars-inspired by women’s tale behind India’s successful Mangalyaan mission. This show is about the females who sent the mission to Mars, taking into account the sacrosanct nature of ISRO in part fictional. The real character behind this is Nandini Harinath, Ritu Karidhal, Anuradha TK and Seetha Somasundaram.
November 5, 2013, is a date that will remain forever etched in the history of space in India. It was the day that the Indian Space Research Organization launched the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan into space. It is also a day that will never forget any ISRO scientist working on the project including the three women scientists that went into making it possible.
“Every launch offers me butterflies in the stomach,” smiles Nandini Harinath, Project Manager, Mission Design and Deputy Director of Operations, Mars Orbiter Mission. she never thought of becoming a space scientist and for her, Isro “just happened.” “It was the first job I applied for and I’ve been through. Being part of the Mars mission was a high point of her life.“
It was very important for India, not just for ISRO. It puts us on a different pedestal, foreign countries are looking at us for collaborations and the importance and attention we got was justified. The researchers worked about 10 hours a day in the start, but as the start date approached, it went up to 12 to 14 bruising job hours.
“I don’t believe we have not gone home at all during the launch. But we required to work like that for a significant task like that, which is time-bound. We spent many sleepless nights“.I feel proud of our achievement. Sometimes, I feel honored and flattered, but sometimes I’m also embarrassed,” she says, laughing. “But now the way people look at you, it’s very different. People recognize you for being a scientist. And I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”Ms. Harinath says she’s taking “enormous pride” in Mangalyan and was “really excited” to see the fresh 2,000 rupee notes photographed.
The sky is the boundary for this senior female officer at ISRO-she specializes in sending communication satellites into space at least 36,000 kilometers from the center of the earth. When she was nine, the scientist who has been working with Isro for the previous 34 years was first thinking about space. When she joined ISRO in 1982, her engineering department had only a few females and even fewer.”Five-six women engineers joined Isro in my batch. We stood out and everybody knew us.
Today, over 20-25% of Isro’s over 16,000 employees are women and we don’t feel unique anymore,” she laughs. That’s because, she says, “we’re still carrying on our backs cultural loads and many females believe their priorities are elsewhere, at home.” Her recommendation to females who want to be researchers of the rocket is easy: “make arrangements”.
Dr. Seetha Somasundaram
One such star scientist is Dr. Seetha Somasundaram, Program Director at the Space Science Program Office of ISRO. As the leading expert in space science instrumentation at ISRO, she has been engaged in characterizing and calibrating Mangalyaan’s payload. Dr. Seetha and her crew were responsible for ensuring the good performance of the payloads as well as the craft orbited around the red planet after traveling 400 million km. They had to perform strict trials on the floor for that.
“We had to demonstrate we could go to Mars and orbit around it as well”. And, they have proven that. The entire process was flawless, right from the time of the launch to insertion into the orbit and also after. “I’ve experienced many difficulties as a female. But, in balancing my professional career with my private life, I had family support, “she said. Remembering that when she joined ISRO there were very few females, she said it was good to see that more are now joining. Dr. Seetha got numerous prizes from India’s Astronautical Society, including the 2003 C V Raman Young Physics Scientist Award and the 2012 Best Woman Scientist.
Ritu Karidhal was a little girl looking up at the twinkling stars in the sky of Lucknow, wondering why every night the moon changed its shape and size. In her adolescence, she started cutting and gathering clippings in the journals following the operations of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
She worked on a number of ISRO initiatives, including the renowned Mars mission, which brought her and her peers to the forefront. A mother of two young kids, Ms. Karidhal claims that maintaining a work-life equilibrium was not simple, but “I received the assistance I required from my family, my spouse and my siblings.
It’s often said that” males are from Mars while females are from Venus, “but after the achievement of the Mars mission, many Indian women researchers dubbed the “girls from Mars.”I am an earthly lady, an Indian woman who has had an incredible chance, “says Ms. Karidhal. The nation requires a lot more from us to get the advantage to the last person. “And who better to do that than female researchers?“
These real-life wonder women set an ultimate example of women empowerment in real sense.
Take a bow- the real gems of technological advanced India!