Femina Fab 40: The Mangalyaan Women, Behind India's Maiden Mission To Mars

by | September 24, 2021, 16:10 IST


Femina’s Fabulous 40 for 2021
The Olympians who represented the country on a prestigious platform. Some brought glory and others hope. The women who inspire us and make us believe that anything is possible, especially after the year that we have had. Women who have raised their voices and lent a voice to those who did not have one. There are too many to count, but this selection of 40 women will motivate us to hold our heads high while we march ahead.

The Mangalyaan Women 

It was a long, complicated journey right from the announcement of the Mangalyaan project in 2010 till the orbiter was launched in 2013. A team of 500 scientists spread across Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) centres was roped in, and at least 27 per cent of the key positions were held by women.

Nandini Harinath and Ritu Karidhal handled the mission’s operations from the UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru. They also worked on calculating the spacecraft’s trajectory to Mars and on designing an autonomous software system to self-correct problems, respectively. Moumita Dutta and Minal Sampat built and tested the scientific instruments at the Space Application Centre (SAC). Besides these four superwomen, there were several other women scientists who played significant roles in India’s maiden mission, the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), or Mangalyaan.

The launch of Mangalyan on November 5, 2013 marked a significant step in India’s space-related developments. India became the fourth country to place a satellite in the orbit of Mars, and this also made ISRO the first-ever space organisation to successfully execute the mission in the first attempt. Since it was a calculation-intensive mission, the mathematical expertise of the women’s team was used extensively for manoeuvres, designs and path calculations. S Arunan, the mission’s project director, also credited the women scientists’ contingency plans for the precision of the minute calculations involved. He proudly mentioned that the women scientists played integral roles.

Minnie Vaid’s book, Those Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines, talks of the efforts of women scientists who worked for the success of Mangalyaan.

Also Read: ISRO scientist Ritu Karidhal's Mars Mission
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