Isro scientist, the voice behind Chandrayaan-3 launch countdown, dies

Isro scientist, the voice behind Chandrayaan-3 launch countdown, dies

N Valarmathi, The Voice Behind ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 Countdown, Passes Away

India's space community is mourning the loss of one of its most prominent members, N Valarmathi, who passed away on Saturday due to a cardiac arrest. She was 58 years old. Valarmathi was a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the project director of RISAT-1, India's first indigenously-developed radar imaging satellite. She was also the voice behind many countdowns for rocket launches at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, including the recent successful Chandrayaan-3 mission, India's third lunar expedition.

Valarmathi was born in Trichy, Tamil Nadu, and completed her bachelor's degree in electronics and communication engineering from Government College of Technology, Coimbatore. She joined ISRO in 1987 and worked on various projects related to satellite communication, remote sensing, and navigation. She was the first woman project director of an earth observation satellite at ISRO and led the development of RISAT-1, which was launched in 2012. RISAT-1 was a milestone for India as it enabled all-weather and day-night imaging of the earth's surface using synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

Valarmathi was also known for her calm and confident voice that announced the countdowns for many ISRO missions, such as PSLV-C45, GSLV-Mk III D2, Chandrayaan-2, and Chandrayaan-3. She was praised for her clarity and accuracy in conveying the status of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft during the critical phases of the missions. Her last countdown was for Chandrayaan-3, which was launched on July 14, 2023. The mission consisted of a lunar lander named Vikram and a lunar rover named Pragyan, similar to those launched aboard Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. Chandrayaan-3 achieved a historic feat by successfully landing near the lunar south pole on August 23, making India the fourth country to soft-land on the moon, and the first to do so near the lunar south pole.

Valarmathi's sudden demise has left a void in the Indian space community and has saddened many people who admired her work and voice. She was hailed as a role model for women in science and technology and an inspiration for many young aspiring scientists. She received several awards and honors for her contributions to ISRO and the nation, such as the Abdul Kalam Award in 2015, the ISRO Team Excellence Award in 2016, and the Women Achievers Award in 2018.

Valarmathi will be remembered as a pioneer, a leader, and a voice of India's space program. Her legacy will live on through her achievements and through the missions she helped launch. As P V Venkitakrishnan, former ISRO director, tweeted: "The voice of Valarmathi Madam will not be there for the countdowns of future missions of ISRO from Sriharikotta. Chandrayan 3 was her final countdown announcement. An unexpected demise. Feel so sad.Pranams!" 


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(4) N. Valarmathi - Wikipedia.
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