Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Valarmathi, known for her voice in rocket launch countdowns, passed away due to a cardiac arrest. Her last announcement was during the historic Chandrayaan-3 launch from Sriharikota on July 14.
Chandrayaan-3's Lander Module, comprising Vikram and Pragyan, successfully landed on the Moon's south pole on August 23. ISRO temporarily put the rover Pragyan to sleep, hoping to wake it up in 14 days.
Pragyan carries the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) to analyze lunar soil and rocks.
If Pragyan doesn't awaken, it will remain on the Moon as India's lunar ambassador, a mission that aimed to advance lunar science and exploration.
Former ISRO Director PV Venkitakrishnan expressed his condolences on X (formerly Twitter), lamenting the loss of Valarmathi Madam's iconic voice, which will be absent from future ISRO mission countdowns in Sriharikota.
Chandrayaan 3 marked her final countdown announcement, and her unexpected passing is deeply saddening. Pranams!
Ms. Valarmathi, hailing from Tamil Nadu's Ariyalur, was born on July 31, 1959. She attended Nirmala Girls Higher Secondary School and later earned her engineering degree from the Government College of Technology in Coimbatore.
Joining ISRO in 1984, she played a crucial role in various missions. Notably, she served as the project director for RISAT-1, India's first indigenously developed Radar Imaging Satellite (RIS) and the nation's second such satellite.
In 2015, Ms. Valarmathi achieved the distinction of being the first recipient of the Abdul Kalam Award, an honor established by the Government of Tamil Nadu in tribute to former President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Naming the landing point Shiv Shakti Point highlights the major role played by women scientists in Chandrayan-3.
PM Modi also highlighted the integral contributions of Women scientists in India, which showcases India’s commitment to gender inclusivity and the representation of women in science and technology.