Chandrayaan 2 Mission Director Ritu Karidhal’s journey from a middle-class homemaker in the northern Indian city of Lucknow to being promoted as director of India’s Moon Mission in 2019 is no less than a stimulant.
This is the story of an AeroSpace engineer who aimed for stars to make the nation reach Mars and the moon.
Early Life of Ritu Karidhal
Ritu is the oldest of 4 children in her family, born into a middle-class family of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. Although the family lacked the resources for additional training and teaching classes, her parents put great emphasis on education.
Ritu was a hardworking achiever in her studies, and her mother accompanied her many nights during the study so that she would not feel alone and lose her motivation. Not only did her mother stay up late at night with her daughter’s studies, but also saw the same dreams as Ritu did, as she stared at the star and thought about the night sky.
As a teenager, one of Ritu’s hobbies was collecting newspaper clippings that kept track of space-related activities and news from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO.
Education of Ritu Karidhal
Ritu was always fascinated by the stars, and had a real love of mathematics and physics – so much so that she claims to have written poems about mathematics!
Ritu Karidhal completed his BSc at Mahila Vidyalaya PG College and Master of Science at the Physics University of Lucknow.
Ritu often praised her professors for teaching physics in such a fascinating way that she believed she had chosen the right path. After completing the Master of Science degree, Ritu began to study for Ph.D. in physics under Professor Manisha Gupta, who was also her Master of Science administrator.
Ritu Karidhal As ISRO Scientist
Ritu Karidhal has worked for ISRO since 1997.
Mangalyaan is one of the major achievements of ISRO. It makes India the fourth country in the world to reach Mars. Done within 18 months and at very low cost to taxpayers – only Rs. 450 crores. Her job was to think about and implement an advanced independent manual system, which used satellite functions independently in space and responded appropriately to malfunctions.
When the United Kingdom took over the G7 presidency in 2021, Karidhal was appointed by Women and Equality Minister Liz Truss to the newly formed Gender Equality Council (GEAC) led by Sarah Sands.
The Journey to Mars and Moon
When Ritu started at ISRO in Bangalore, she was first sent to the U.S. R. Rao Satellite Center (URSC). Despite the other senior scientists available, Ritu remembers receiving difficult and challenging projects because of her educational background. Not only did she finish the assignments on time, but it also helped her to be more confident in her work and have a greater love for the challenges ahead. Ritu loved the projects she was involved in! Indian women takesall the changes with pride and stand up to all expectations, read about 5 Indian empowering women who made significant contributions to the field of science and technology.
The most challenging project that came over her desk was the Mars Orbiter Mission (M.O.M) of India, called Mangalyaan-1. In 2012, Ritu was appointed Deputy Director of Operations for the campaign: a campaign that demanded a short-term completion, and if completed India would be the first to achieve given the economics.
Ritu Karidhal led a team that created a software system designed to make decisions on its own. Together with a team of scientists, as well as electrical and mechanical engineers, an independent system was created with a 10-month record!
The project was completed in just 18 months.
Mangalyaan-1 was launched on 5th November 2013 and has been successfully orbiting Mars since 24th September 2014. It was the first time any country had reached Mars orbit in its first attempt. The image of celebrating the handful of women scientists who have worked on this campaign was being shared around the world!
What is red, is a planet and is the focus of my orbit? pic.twitter.com/HDRWjOcPus— ISRO’s Mars Orbiter (@MarsOrbiter) September 24, 2014
Ritu, along with many other women in the group at ISRO, received the title “Rocket Women of India”.
The Chandrayaan 2 is said to be a major challenge so far as it will attempt to explore the area, which is, the untested area of the lunar south pole region. The campaign aims to gather information about minerals, rock formations, and water on the moon.
Hello! This is Chandrayaan 2 with a special update. I wanted to let everyone back home know that it has been an amazing journey for me so far and I am on course to land on the lunar south polar region on 7th September. To know where I am and what I’m doing, stay tuned! pic.twitter.com/qjtKoiSeon— ISRO (@isro) August 17, 2019
The lunar south pole is said to be of great importance to the scientific community as there may be water in permanent shady areas near it. Also, the Lunar south pole region has cold trap traps and contains records of the remains of the original Solar System.
The entire project cost around Rs 1,000 crore and includes a lander, rover, and satellite built under ISRO guidance.
All of India applauded as the rocket carrying the country’s first moon lander and explorer embarked on a 23-day orbit around the globe. Politicians spoke in groups, bloggers praised the event while millions of Indians tweeted cheerfully and proudly that their country was aiming for the moon.
The introduction of Chandrayaan-2 is rightly regarded as the sum of two achievements – the success of the space system and the gradual rise from women’s participation to their achievements. However, there are still only 20% women scientists working in ISRO but as said the number is gradually increasing for good. Mad4India salutes the dedication and hard work showcased by Ritu Karidhal.
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