2 September 2023, Mumbai: Aditya-L1 is a significant space endeavor aimed at unraveling the mysteries of the Sun. This ambitious mission seeks to comprehensively study the Sun’s corona, solar wind, magnetic field, and various phenomena influencing the Earth and our solar system. The mission centers around a satellite equipped with seven specialized scientific instruments. This satellite will orbit the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point L1, positioned approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. Aditya-L1 holds the promise of providing profound insights into the dynamic nature of the Sun, enhancing our understanding of space weather, and its potential implications for human activities. Notably, this mission signifies a remarkable milestone for ISRO, as it marks the first time an Indian spacecraft ventures so close to the Sun.
Empowering Women in ISRO
ISRO is witnessing a notable rise in women’s participation in interplanetary endeavors, and one exemplar of this trend is Nigar Shaji. She serves as the Project Director for the Aditya-L1 mission, India’s pioneering voyage to the Sun. Nigar Shaji, hailing from Shengottai in Tamil Nadu, completed her early education at a government school, achieving district first in her 10th standard and school first in her 12th standard. She pursued her engineering degree at a college in Tirunelveli and furthered her education with an M.Tech from Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi.
Impressive Career Journey
Shaji commenced her career with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), actively participating in various projects. Approximately eight years ago, she assumed leadership of the Aditya-L1 mission, a formidable task considering its complexity. Placing the spacecraft in the challenging halo orbit was a significant feat, and the mission’s payloads represented groundbreaking advancements.
Balancing Personal and Professional Life
In addition to her career accomplishments, Shaji is dedicated to her family. Her husband works as a mechanical engineer in Dubai, her son holds a Ph.D. and works in the Netherlands, while her daughter is a qualified doctor currently pursuing post-graduation studies.
Rising Women Power at ISRO
ISRO is experiencing a gradual emergence of women in influential roles, particularly in interplanetary missions. Notable instances include Project Director M. Vanitha and Mission Director Ritu Karidhal Srivastava’s key roles in the Chandrayaan-2 mission, as well as Deputy Director Kalpana’s vital contribution to Chandrayaan-3.