Mangalyaan in 2013 and Chandrayaan 2, the two most important space mission of India have one thing in common- their womanly empowered team which consists of Project Director M Vanitha and Mission Director Ritu Karidhal who steered the country’s second mission to the moon.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan in an interview proudly flaunted and said that close 30% of the team working for Chandrayaan 2 are women. He said, “It is the first time for a planetary mission where women are in charge. We have had women project directors for the launch of communication and other satellites.”
While Vanitha is responsible for the entire project from its inception to completion, Karidhal is assigned the duty to oversee the mission and act as a coordinator between various agencies involved.
More About The Super Women
Vanitha, an Electronic Systems Engineer, has headed the telemetry and telecommand divisions in the digital systems group at the Satellite Centre (now the UR Rao Space Centre) and also served as Deputy Project Director for data systems for Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2 and Megha-Tropiques remote-sensing satellites.
She has also received the Best Woman Scientist Award in 2006 from the Astronomical Society of India for her immense contribution.
As for Karidhal, fondly known as the ‘Rocket Woman of India’, she grew up in a middle-class family in Lucknow. In a TED Talk, she shared about how, as a kid, she was fascinated by space and wanted to do something different. While growing up, she would collect news articles related to space activities by ISRO or NASA and read them regularly.
She did her M.Sc in Physics from Lucknow University and then went to pursue M.Tech from Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. Her dream finally came true in 1997 after she joined the space agency.
Karidhal is an Aerospace Engineer who served as the Deputy Operations Director during Mars Orbiter Mission. She is also a recipient of ISRO Young Scientist Award conferred by Former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2007.
Vanitha and Karidhal, both in their forties, have been working with the ISRO for nearly two decades now and are set to script a historic achievement.
Why Chandrayaan 2 Mission is Path Taking
The mission is said to be the most challenging till date as it will attempt to explore the, as yet, unexplored region of the lunar south pole region. The mission aims to gather information on minerals, rock formations and water on the moon.
The lunar south pole is said to be of utmost importance to the scientific community as there is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. Also, Lunar south pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain fossil records of the early Solar System.
The entire project cost nearly Rs 1,000 crore and comprises a lander, rover and satellite built under ISRO’s supervision.