Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the Aditya-L1 Solar Mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota on Saturday. The spacecraft was launched using the space facility's most reliable rocket system Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C57). Among all the brilliant minds that contributed to the successful launch of this project, one name shines to be the brightest, Nigar Shaji.
Who is Nigar Shaji?
Nigar Shaji, (59), a distinguished woman scientist from the southern district of Tenkasi, made history today after the successful launch of the Aditya L-1 mission. She is the project director of India's maiden space-based initiative aimed at studying the Sun.
Shaji's roots trace back to Sengottai town in Tamil Nadu, where she was born to Sheikh Meeran, a farmer, and Saitoon Biwi, a homemaker. Despite her humble beginnings, Nigar's thirst for knowledge was evident from a young age.
She completed her early education at SRM Girls School in Sengottai. Later, she pursued her engineering degree in electronics and communications at Madurai Kamaraj University and furthered her education with a Master's in Electronics and Communications from BIT, Ranchi.
A Stellar Career Takes Flight
Nigar's journey into the world of space exploration began in 1987 when she joined the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SHAAR), a prominent arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Her dedication and expertise led her to the UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, where she held various roles before assuming the pivotal position of the Aditya-L1 project director.
Before her involvement in the Aditya-L1 mission, Nigar Shaji made significant contributions to the design and development of Indian remote sensing, communication, and interplanetary satellites. Notably, she served as the Associate Project Director for the Indian remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A, a crucial asset for national resource monitoring and management. Her work in this field included research on image compression, system engineering, and space internet technologies.
The Aditya-L1 Mission and Beyond
Nigar Shaji's leadership of the Aditya-L1 project represents a crowning achievement in her illustrious career. When asked about the challenges by the local media, she expressed confidence, stating that while challenges exist at every turn, they do not appear unconquerable.
She emphasized the favourable environment for women at ISRO, where recognition is based on merit and abilities rather than gender. Nigar's inspiring words encourage women to have faith in the future and aspire to achieve their dreams, confident that they can occupy the front row in any field.