Feminism is not in protests or in disdainful rejection of our traditions and customs or in mudslinging the other gender. Women of substance take the other path; a path of achievement, research and working for the cause of the country. ISRO is India’s premier science and research institution. Who is better than women of ISRO to showcase what real women are made of. While India rejoiced the success of Mission to Mars (MOM), also called ‘Mangalyan’, many women scientists were instrumental in the extraordinary endeavour that made India proud. Below is a brief profile of women scientists of ISRO who are the pillars of many of its projects
Nandini Harinath, Deputy Operations Director, Mars Orbiter Mission
She was the Deputy Operations Director for Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) and is currently planning and executing Science payloads operations in the Martian orbit. She is also working as Mission Systems lead for NASA- ISRO joint collaboration satellite (called NISAR) to be launched by ISRO in 2020. She has numerous publications and has been awarded a multitude of awards and felicitations, including the ‘India Today Woman in Science Award 2015’. She has worked on 14 missions over her 20 years at ISRO. She has also published research papers on Resourcesat in reputed International Journals. She has also inspired many budding minds through her talks on ISRO’s initiatives and rocket science.
Nandini Harinath is a mother of two daughters. While she spent endless hours working on MOM, her elder daughter was studying for her 12th-standard exams. Women like her who manage both family and work with poise and equanimity showcase the traits of true Indian women.
Ritu Karidhal, Deputy Operations Director, Mars Orbiter Mission
Smt Ritu Karidhal played a major role in the making of India"s Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, dealing with the detailing and the execution of the space craft’s onward autonomy system. She was also the Deputy Operations Director of this mission. Her job was to conceptualize and ensure the execution of the craft"s onward autonomy system which is basically the brain of the satellite. She had to ensure that it all was executed without any flaw or anomaly. She is now working in the Chandrayaan 2 mission.
Karidhal completed her graduation in Physics from University of Lucknow. She consequently pursued her Masters Degree in Aerospace engineering from Indian Institute of Science(IISc). Her dream of joining the space agency came true in 1997, when she joined the premier institution as a scientist. She has worked for many prestigious missions of ISRO , handled responsible position of Operations Director for many missions. Being a mother of two kids, she has managed both work and family life. She finds her inspiration and motivation to manage between work and home from the support given by her family all the times.
She is the recipient of the ISRO Young Scientist Award in 2007 which was presented to her by APJ Abdul Kalam, then President of India. She is also a TEDx speaker.
Minal Rohit, Scientist and Engineer, Project Manager, Methane Sensor for Mars
A graduate from the Gujarat University with a gold medal in electronic and communication engineering, Smt. Minal Rohit was one of 500 scientists working on the Mangalyaan mission of ISRO. She was also one of the 10 women assigned to the project. She served as project manager as well as systems engineer for the Mars Mission project which involved incorporating the components of the methane sensor (MSM), Lyman-Alpha Photometer (LAP), Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS) and Mars Color Camera (MCC) onto the orbiter.
She is currently involved with the Chandrayaan-II. Her primary work on the project involves improving the Insat-3DS satellite to increase atmospheric data and quality received. Smt. Minal Rohit won the Young Scientist Merit Award of ISRO in 2007 for her contributions to their Telemedicine program. She is also the recipient of the ISRO Team Excellence Award in 2013 for her work on INSAT 3D meteorological payloads.Mother of an 8-year-old boy, she has been managing her work and life with a unique approach. In one of her interviews, she had said that she thinks of satellites and payloads as their babies and same set of rules apply to both home and office which are patience, procedures and priorities.
Anuradha TK, Geosat Programme Director at ISRO Satellite Centre
Smt T K Anuradha joined ISRO in 1982. As Project Director, she played a vital role in realisation of GSAT-12, a communication satellite. She also played a major role in the realisation of GSAT-10, the heaviest Communication
satellite and in the design and launch of GSAT-9, GSAT-17 and GSAT-18 communication satellites. She has served as the head of the technical group with nearly 20 engineers and was responsible for the design of many digital and Power electronic based systems; Instrumentation & automation. These were successfully inducted in the Spacecraft
evaluation systems. She has played the lead role in Indian Space programs as Project Manager, Deputy Project Director and Associate Project Director for Indian Remote Sensing and Indian Navigation programs.
She is the author of various papers in refereed journals & delivered distinguished lectures. She is the recipient of numerous awards, some of them include
- "Space Gold Medal award – 2003" by Astronautical Society of India for the services in the field of Space sciences
- “Suman Sharma Award – 2011” by National Design and Research
- Forum (NDRF) of IEI and “ASI- ISRO Merit Award 2012” for realisation of indigenous Communication
- spacecraft “ISRO Team Award 2012” as the team leader for the realisation of GSAT-12.