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Who Is The Women behind ISRO’s Sun Mission: Nigar Shaji

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India is making significant strides in space history with the successful placement of Aditya-L1, the country’s first solar mission, into its designated orbit. Behind this remarkable achievement is Nigar Shaji, the project director of Aditya-L1, who has played a pivotal role in shaping India’s space exploration narrative. 

Who is Nigar Shaji 

Hailing from Tamil Nadu’s Tenkasi district, Nigar Shaji was born in Sengottai to Sheikh Meeran, a mathematics graduate turned farmer, and Saitoon Biwi, a homemaker. Shaji pursued her education at Tirunelveli Government Engineering College and later earned her Master’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra.

Meet Nigar Shaji, a woman ISRO scientist who helmed Aditya-L1 mission -

Source: The Economic Times

In 1987, Shaji embarked on her space career at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, eventually holding key roles at the UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru. Reflecting on her journey, Shaji shared, “I applied to an ad from ISRO when I was in my seventh semester, but was interviewed and selected six months after graduation. This was the first job I got, and I just stayed on because I love it so much”.

Before leading the Aditya-L1 project, Shaji served as the associate project director for “Resourcesat-2A,” a vital Indian remote-sensing satellite. Collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Shaji is also involved in projects like Mars Orbiter Mission 2, Chandrayaan-4/LUPEX, and the EXO global mission. Recently promoted to the position of program director at ISRO, Shaji oversees all lower-level missions, including interplanetary ones.

ISRO Aditya-L1 mission: Meet Nigar Shaji, woman scientist who is project  director of India's first solar mission

Source: DNA

Shaji currently resides in Bengaluru with her mother and children. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with friends and indulging in Tamil and English novels.Having dedicated over 30 years to the space industry, Shaji emphasizes the evolving acceptance within various professions. In her words, “When I was studying, women were not even offered mechanical engineering courses. Now you have women fighter pilots in the Air Force. Gender is not an issue in ISRO; what matters is your technical aptitude and passion for the job. I personally have never felt the glass ceiling in my career”.

Shaji encourages women, especially in rural areas, to overcome self-imposed limitations and boost their self-esteem. She asserts that women are not inferior in any way and should pursue their aspirations fearlessly. Speaking about India’s latest space-observatory mission, Shaji emphasizes the vital role of the Sun in sustaining life on Earth. She states, “There is no life on Earth without the Sun, but even now we cannot say we have understood it properly. Our mission will focus on phenomena like coronal mass ejection, solar plays, and solar wind. It would aid in creating a better space weather model; accurate predictions will save our space assets.” 

Aditya L1 launch ISRO women scientists nigar shaji Annapurni Subramaniam  India first Solar mission latest updates | Aditya News –

Source: India TV

Aditya-L1, India’s first solar exploration mission, was jointly created by ISRO and other Indian research organizations. Launched on September 2, 2023, the mission aims to study the Sun in detail. In Sanskrit, “Aditya” refers to the Sun, and “L1” designates Lagrange Point 1, a critical location in the Sun-Earth system.

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