Archive for March, 2013


Women have made contributions and sacrifices in the field of Science and Technology from ancient times.
The ancient Greece was the seat of intellectuals. Around 300 B.C Alexander the Great founded the city Alexandria . .
He invited worldwide cultures and scholers for the pursuit of knowledge. The greatest marvel of Alexandria was its Library. Hypatia daughter of Theon was a scholar and director of the Library. She was very beautiful and intelligent. She was a Mathematician and an Astronomer. From some historical information it is learnt that she was brutally murdered . The Arabs conquered and destroyed all her works. The little information of her writings and works in known from the works of others who quoted her and wrote to her contemporaries.

Amongst the ancient known scientist was an Egyptian Merit Ptah , chief physician. Agarmades, Theano . Theano was possibly wife of Pythagoras. She was a mathematician and physician. There were a record number female scientist all over the world in those days too.
During 16th century, most famous in Germany was Astronomer Maria Winkelman. Maria discovered comet and made some original contributions in Astronomy. She was married to Prussian foremost Astronomer Gottfried Kirch and worked under him as Assistant Astronomer. Even though she was highly qualified and experienced she was denied post in Berlin Academy when her husband died. Maira faced a lot of obstacles in her profession.
No woman was invited to either The Royal Society of London nor the French Academy of Sciences untill the 20th century. Two English women Caroline Herschel and Margaret Cavendish added to the scientist of that time. Carolyn Herschel had discovered eight comets between the years 1786-1797
Marie Sklodowska Curie discovered the mysterious element radium. It opened the door to deep changes in the way scientists think about matter and energy. She also led the way to a new era for medical knowledge and the treatment of diseases. She was the first women scientist to be awarded two Noble Prize one in Physics(1903) and the other in Chemistry(1911) .
Women Scientist in INDIA: During the time of Marie Curie Indian women scientist too had made a mark in their field.
A Book titled ‘Lilavatis Daughters: Women Scientist in India’ written about scientists, a hundred of them, their biographies etc is published by Scientist Rohini Godbole and Ram Ramaswamy . It is an attempt to enthuse girls in schools and colleges to hear or read about the work the women scientist are doing and take up research as their career. To name a few:
Anna Mani (1918-2001) Anna Mani, the distinguished Indian meteorologist, was the former Deputy Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department. She made significant contributions in the field of meteorological instrumentation and pioneered research in the areas of solar radiation, ozone and wind energy measurements.
Janaki Ammal:E K Janaki Ammal was a renowned botanist cytologist who made significant contributions in evolution, phytogeography and ethnobotany.
Kamal Ranadive (1917-2001)Ph.D. (1949, Bombay), FNA. This recipient of the Padmabhushan established the first tissue culture laboratory in India at the Indian Cancer Research Centre (presently Cancer Research Institute). She got Watumal Foundation Award for her work in the field of leprosy. She founded the Indian Women Scientist Association (IWSA).

Rohini Godbole:Ph.D. (1979, Stony Brook), FASc, FNA, FNASc, FTWAS, recipient of Sheel Memorial Lecture award (NASI), the distinguished Alumni award of IIT (Bombay), Meghnad Saha gold medal of Asiatic Society, J.C. Bose Fellowship of DST, Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Visiting Fellowship (INSA), INSA Satyendranath Bose Medal, etc., Chairs Academy Panel for Women in Science (WiS), Member Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet. Her area of specialization is theoretical high energy physics. Email: rohini@cts.iisc.ernet.in
Neelima Gupte
Ph.D. (1983, Stony Brook). She is a theoretical physicist and Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of Pramana and is a recipient of the Stree Shakti Science Sanmaan. Her areas of specialization are nonlinear dynamics and statistical mechanics.
Pushpa Khare:Ph.D. (1978, Bombay), she is Professor at the Physics Department, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. Her areas of interest are astrophysics and cosmology. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at University of South Carolina, and a visiting scientist at the University of Chicago, Max Planck Institute, Munich and Osaka University
Mangala Narlikar: (nee Sadashiv Rajwade) Wife of the renowned Scientist Jayant Narlikar
Ph.D. (1982, Bombay), works on number theory and mathematics education.
The Council of the Indian Academy of Sciences had in January 2003 constituted a committee on “Women in Science” to look into the issues of women scientists. This led to the formation of a Panel for “Women in Science” (WiS), in January 2005, to study the issues of women scientists and to suggest measures for obtaining suitable solutions. The Panel is currently chaired by Prof. Rohini M Godbole. The Panel has undertaken several initiatives towards fulfilling its objectives.
The Women in Planetary Science: Since the invention of Hubble Telescope the study of the stars , galaxies etc and the Cosmos is fast growing. Women in the Planetary field have opted for research on various fields such as the study of atmosphere soil of different Planets and their moons,also Search for Extra Terristrial Intelligence(SETI) founded by Astronomer Carl Sagan.
Deputy Administrator of NASA :Lori Garver addressing the girls scouts encouraging them for perusal of the education in Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM). She said the new generation needed to build courage perseverance and endurance to travel into our Solar System and explore the Universe.
Indian Women in Planetary Field: Dr. Renu Malhotra , Anita Cochran.

Renu Malhotra earned her M.S. in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi in 1983, and her Ph.D. in Physics from Cornell University in 1988. She did post-doctoral research at Cornell (1989) and at Caltech (1989-1991), and worked as a staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston (1991-2000). She has been the recipient of honors and awards from the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, The University of Arizona, and the IIT-Delhi.

Anita Cochran: Anita Cochran is Assistant Director of the McDonald Observatory and a senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin.


Kalpana Chawla:
The brave and
brilliant NASA woman of Indian origin Kalpana Chawla was an American Astronaut and space shuttle mission specialist who died aboard Space Shuttle Columbia during mission STS107 . Our meteorological satellites are named after her an Asteroid 51826 kalpanachawla is also named after her.
(The above details is produced with the help of Internet)

Going through the achievements of these Women our soul gets enlightened a new spirit dawns, it boots our energy and hidden talents which lie latent in our. A New direction to ours is bound to unfold!


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vestaThursday, May 24, 2012

Years back in 1998 hollywood science fiction movie ‘Armageddon’ was released. It was about a giant asteroid in space which was in collision
course with our planet Earth. In the movie the crew of astronauts and Oil drillers planted nuclear warheads on the impending asteroid and blew it! The space mission NASA has announced recently, its space mission,
about landing its astronauts on asteroid VESTA before 2030. The findings from NASA are reported in the Science Magazine.
Since its formation,4.5 billion years ago, Earth
has been hit many times with asteroids and
comets whose orbits brings them into the inner
solar system. These objects collectively known
as Near Earth Objects (NEOs) still pose danger
to Earth today. Massive damage can occur by
their collisions. We have come to know that
Dinosaurs were wiped out; they became extinct
due to such collision. Their fossils are the record
of their existence on earth.

In1994 the comet Shoemaker-Levy broke in fragments and crashed into the atmosphere of planet Jupiter.

If these fragments had hit Earth instead, we would have suffered global catastrophe!

Most of the asteroids and comets pose no danger to our planet. But in Every thousand or so of those objects, there is one with an orbit which crosses that of the Earth raising possibility of future collision.

NASA is planning to send humans further than they have ever been before. It would take astronauts far beyond the current limit of human endeavour-the moon which is about 385,000km from Earth,

One of the astronauts is Maj. Tim Peake, a former British Army Helicopter Test pilot- an astronaut with European Space Agency. Peake and five other Astronauts will be sent to an underwater base off the cost of Florida next month where they will spend 12 days 20 meters beneath the surface of the Atlantic to simulate working in the low gravity environment of an Asteroid.NASAs Extreme Environment Mission Operation(NEEMO): During the training the astronauts will stay in a capsule (12 meters by 6 meters) where they will live eat sleep as part of training.

Spacecraft Dawn was sent in space in the year 2007. Its circling VESTA since 2011. It has sent some 20,000 images and spectra data is collected from different wavelengths of radiations.

VESTA was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on 29th march 1807. It is named after the goddess of home and hearth from Roman Mythology.

Asteroid VESTA is the second largest in the asteroid belt between planet Mars and Jupiter. Its mean diameter is 525 kilometers (326 mi)

VESTA resembles a small planet. It is 4.5 billion year

old has a rare iron core and crust and mantle formation similar to the Earth. It is rich in metals and minerals like iron and magnesium.

VESTA has large mountains-the largest is more than twice the size of Mount Everest. The Crater centered near its south pole is 505 km in Diameter named as RheaSilvia.

Dr.Raymond of Dawn Mission says “ VESTA is special because it has survived the intense collisional environments of the asteroid belt- for billions of years, allowing us to interrogate a key witness to the events at the very beginning of the Solar System.”

By Prajakta Dighe.

My above article got published in The Hitavada dated 3/6/2012

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275px-Europa-moonCosmos was only discovered yesterday. For a million years it was clear to everyone that they were no other places than the Earth. Then in the last tenth of a percent of the lifetime of our species ….that we were not the center and purpose of the Universe, but rather lived on a tiny and fragile world lost in immensity and eternity drifting in a great cosmic ocean dotted here and there with hundred billion galaxies and billion and trillions of stars”…. (Carl Sagan)

Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System and Europa is one of its several moons.

Europa is one of the most fascinating moons of Jupiter. It is one of the four Galilean moons. The others are Io, Ganymede, and Callisto. They were discovered by Italian Scientist Galileo in the year 1610. Europa is claimed to have been discovered by a German astronomer Simon Marius too.

Europa is named after the Greek beautiful Phoenician princess who was courted by Zeus and became the Queen of Crete.

Europa surface is the brightest in the solar system due to the reflection of the sunlight on its icy crust.

Europa surface is mostly water ice. It may be covering an ocean beneath. If so, it may be the only place in the solar system besides Earth where liquid water exists in abundance. Life forms have been found thriving at the extreme locations of Earth and at the subterranean regions of the volcanoes that may be similar to what may exist on Europa,….it may harbor life there too.

Jupiter’s Europa might not only sustain, but foster life, according to the research of University of Arizona’s Richard Greenberg, a professor of planetary sciences and member of the Imaging Team for NASA’s Galileo Jupiter-orbiter spacecraft.

“The real key to life on Europa,” Greenburg adds, “is the permeability of the ice crust. There is strong evidence that the ocean below the ice is connected to the surface through cracks and melting, at various times and places. As a result, then, if there is one, includes not just the liquid water ocean, but it extends through the ice up to the surface where there is access to oxidants, organic compounds, and light for photosynthesis. The physical setting provides a variety of potentially habitable and evolving niches. If there is life there, it would not necessarily be restricted to microorganisms.”

Recent data from Galileo Orbiter showed that Europa has an induced magnetic field through interaction with Jupiter which suggests the presence of subsurface conductive layer.

Its surface is very smooth with very few (three) crates larger than five km. in diameter. Most striking aspect of Europa are dark streaks criss crossed, resembles the scribbling of a child. The latest theory about their origin is that they are produced by a series of volcanic eruptions or geysers.

Europa orbits Jupiter in just three and a half days. The orbital radius is about 670,900 km. Europa spins faster than it orbits. This suggests an asymmetry in internal mass distribution and that a layer of subsurface liquid separates the icy crust from the rocky interior.

Europa probably consists of metallic iron core. It is slightly smaller that Earths moon.

Orbit: 670,900 km from Jupiter
Diameter: 3138 km
Mass : 4.80e22 kg

With input from scientists around the world, American and European scientists working on the potential next new mission to the Jupiter system have announced their joint vision for the Europa Jupiter System Mission to explore “the emergence of habitable worlds around gas giants.”

from Prajakta Dighe
my above article got published in The Hitavada dt 31/7/2011

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