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India’s female Mars scientist

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minal SampathFor two years, Minal Sampath, a systems engineer working on India’s mission to Mars, worked flat out in a windowless room, often for 18 hours a day, to be ready for the country’s most ambitious space project to date.

“We had a great team and there was an understanding between us that we had to get the work done to meet the deadline,” she says. “The launch date was fixed and we could not miss it.”

working on the Mars project was a dream come true.

That day finally came on 5 November last year when the Mars Orbiter Mission took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the east coast of India.

It also marked the moment that India joined the short list of nations capable of launching such a mission.

Only the Soviet Union, Russia, the US, Britain, Europe, Japan and China have done so. Of the 40 missions launched so far, fewer than half have been successful.

If the Indian Mars Orbiter reaches the Red Planet, it will join an even shorter list of nations that have pulled off a successful mission. Only the US, Russia and Europe have managed that.

For Ms Sampath, working on the Mars project was a dream come true.

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