In December 2018 a team of ISRO’s scientists completed a 403-day expedition at Bharathi, India’s research station in Antarctica.  Mangala Mani was the only woman in this all-male team. She was a part of a 23-member expedition team.  The 56-years old Mani operated and maintained the ground station where 10 of 14 orbits would be visible at Bharathi.

She is the first ISRO  female scientist to spend more than a year in Antarctica. She was the only woman in that zone as the Russian and Chinese earth stations also did not have any woman during the 2016-17 period. Back then she told Times of India “The Antarctica mission was really a challenge. The climate there was very harsh. We were very careful while going out of our climate-controlled research station.” She also said, “One had to wear polar clothing. Even two or three hours out in the severe cold was too much and one had to come back immediately for warm-up.”

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Here are a few things you must know about this inspiring woman:

  • A newspaper article by NASA on Mars inspired her to join a space organization. She did her model Diploma for Technicians – Radio Apparatus (MDT-RA) from Government Polytechnic in Masab Tank, Hyderabad. Mani was the only female in the batch of 80 students.
  • First, Mani worked at HAL, Balanagar for an apprenticeship (after completing her diploma). She later joined ISRO.
  • She is working in National Remote Sensing Center, Shadnagar in Hyderabad. The centre collects data on earth’s resources from the satellites. Further, that data is processed and distributed to the users. This data is used for monitoring and managing the resources to help disaster support systems.
  • Mani always had a dream for exploration. Antarctica expedition was an opportunity for her to prove her point. And she successfully performed the task.
  • Mani also inspired another ISRO female scientist who volunteered to be part of the Antarctica mission.

“The Antarctica mission was really a challenge. The climate there was very harsh. We were very careful while going out of our climate-controlled research station.” She also said “One had to wear polar clothing. Even two or three hours out in the severe cold was too much and one had to come back immediately for warm-up.”

  • She had never experienced snow before the Antarctica expedition. Mani and her teammates had to take several physical and mental tests over the course of a few weeks for making the cut for the selection team.
  • She spent two weeks at an altitude of 9000 feet in Auli, Uttrakhand to adjust to the ice. Later she and her team were taken to an altitude of 10000 feet in Badrinath. At Badrinath, her physical strength was tested. She carried heavy backpacks on extensive treks as part of the test.
  • Mani stitched the image of Antarctica on a pillow cover for her mother for International Women Day in 2017.

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Image Credit: The Wise Gender

Mansi is an Intern at SheThePeople.TV

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