Meet Vanitha Muthayya, Project Director Of ISRO Chandrayaan 2 Mission

Vanitha Muthayya

India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 is all set for a lift-off today, at 2:43 pm IST, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota. The team behind this mission has 30 percent women and is being led by Vanitha Muthayya, the mission’s project director. Surprisingly, she was reluctant to take this post. Muthayya, who has been conferred with the Best Woman scientist award in 2006 by the Indian Aeronautical Society, was named among the “Ones To Watch Out in 2019” by 2018 edition of Nature’s 10, an annual listicle of ten “people who mattered” in science, produced by the scientific journal Nature.

Vanitha has been researching on various domains of satellite communications and her researches are available on the official site of ISRO. The first in the line was CORDIC.

An Expert In Data Handling

Vanitha is an expert in data handling and according to Dr. M Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1, Vanitha was hesitant in becoming the project director of such a high profile and crucial mission. “This role not only involves nearly 18 hours of work a day at its peak, which means many sacrifices but is also in the national limelight bringing heavy responsibility of its own,” Dr Annadurai told News18.

Data Handling in spacecraft is used to;

  • Manage all forms of data on the spacecraft.
  • Carry out commands sent from Earth.
  • Prepare data for transmission to Earth.
  • Manage the collection of solar power and charging of the batteries.
  • Collect and process information about all subsystems and payloads.
  • Keep and distribute the spacecraft time.
  • Calculate the spacecraft’s position in orbit.
  • Carry out commanded maneuvers.
  • Autonomously monitor and respond to a wide range of onboard problems that might occur.

Muthayya has also been conferred with the Best Woman scientist award in 2006 by the Indian Aeronautical Society.

The Data Handling system is the heart of the orbiter and literally controls all the spacecraft functions. This makes it the most crucial part of any space mission. Dr. Annaduari says that Vanitha has excellent problem-solving skills which make her the best at Data Handling too. Her team management capabilities that he believed come in handy for this crucial project; which is why he made the extra effort to convince her to get on board Chandrayaan-2.


Vanitha has been researching on various domains of satellite communications and her researches are available on the official site of ISRO. The first in the line was CORDIC, which stands for coordinate rotation digital computer. It is an algorithm developed to compute trigonometric function through a series of rotation. Para-CORDIC is the latest method of implementation of CORDIC equations and has an advantage over other implementation algorithms in terms of speed and accuracy.

Read More: Chandrayaan 2: Meet Dr. Shyama Narendranath, Operations Scientist

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