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Know all about Muthayya Vanitha the project director of Chandrayaan-2

Muthayya Vanitha is an Indian electronics system engineer who has led projects on satellites at the Indian Space Research Organization. She is currently the project director of the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission of the ISRO.
Project director of Chandrayaan-2 Muthayya Vanitha
Project director of Chandrayaan-2 Muthayya Vanitha

Vanitha is from Chennai, India and originally trained as a design engineer. Daughter of a civil engineer and an electronics and communications engineer, Vanitha worked tirelessly to give India the privilege of being remembered as the fourth country in the world to make a highly challenging soft-landing on the Moon. Her only resolve was to do it at a fraction of the cost incurred by the contemporaries of ISRO.

Vanitha was initially reluctant to assume the role of project director of Chandrayaan-2. It was the persuasion of M Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1, which finally got her on board.

According to M Annadurai “Vanitha is an expert in data handling. She was comfortable in her digital/hardware section and was hesitant to move to the role of a project director. This role not only involves nearly 18 hours of work a day, but is also in the national limelight bringing heavy responsibility of its own.”

Career

Vanitha has worked at ISRO for over three decades. She joined the ISRO as a junior engineer working in various areas of hardware testing and development. She later succeeded to managerial positions, leading the Telemetry and Telecommand Divisions in the Digital Systems Group of ISRO Satellite Centre. She has also acted as deputy project director for several satellites including Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2, and Megha-Tropiques, where she was responsible for data operations. Vanitha was also involved in the successful Mangalyaan mission to Mars in 2013.

Chandrayaan-2

Vanitha was promoted from associate director to project director for ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission. She is the first woman to lead an interplanetary mission at the ISRO. Previous Chandrayaan-1 project director, Mylswamy Annadurai, who helped convince her to take on the role, said that her data handling, team management and problem-solving skills made her the ideal person for this position. Vanitha's responsibilities include ensuring complete oversight of the development and implementation of all systems and acting as a point of authority for the project. The launch successfully occurred on 22 July 2019. Unlike Chandrayaan-1, this new mission aims to land a probe on the Moon surface rather than orbit around it. If successful, it will investigate water, rock formations and moonquakes on the Moon's surface.

Awards and honours:

Vanitha received an award for Best Woman Scientist by the Astronomical Society of India in 2006.
She was also noted as one of five scientists to watch by Nature in 2019.

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