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Lucknow girl one of the nine ‘desis’ who work on NASA’s mission Mars

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Lucknow: Making the whole country proud, Lucknow girl Priyanka Srivastava contributes to NASA’s Perseverance Rover land successfully on Mars. She was one of the nine Indians who were associated with the mission.

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Priyanka, who was working in the capacity of a systems engineer has so far worked on three earlier flight missions in her four-year long stint with Nasa.

Her father, Sunil Srivastava, working with an export-oriented private company, said, “She had informed us already and sent to us a link on February 18 on which we watched till around 2.30 am the landing of the mission.”

Priyanka, who studied in Lucknow’s Mount Carmel till class 12th and went to Punjab University to pursue BTech in Electronics and Communication before working on three Nasa flight missions, was given the motor control assembly responsibility during descent of the spacecraft.

Talking about her daughter’s aspiration, Priyanka’s mother said, “She took Kalpana Chawla as her idol. The day she watched Chawla’s news on TV (about her going into space), she told her mother about her wish to be an astronaut.” This, however, made her mother tell her that she should not say things for fun but pursue them diligently if she actually aspires to.

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Priyanka’s younger sister works as a medical professional abroad. Her family had to let go on some comforts and pleasures to fund the education, said the father of two, “My wife works with an insurance company. Despite our busy schedule we did not let the education of our girls get affected.”

“It was still easy for us to support her education till BTech. She later went to University of Michigan and the first semester was difficult for us financially. Her mother would not spend money on even things like a ‘bindi’ ,” further revealed Mr. Srivastava.

Priyanka’s success journey started with her small step as she started to earn a little while she was perusing her second semester, when she got to check the copies of undergraduate students and in third semester, she did a project, which was appreciated by the university, and she was sent to Jerusalem where astronauts from all over had gathered and the then President Pranab Mukherjee had also attended the event.

“She got to interact with her idol Sunita Williams and she told Williams that to her (Priyanka) she (Williams) was a mentor. She was like ‘Eklavya’ to Williams,” said Priyanka’s father.

Priyanka did her internship with Denver branch of Nasa and then was selected to work in Nasa JPL, California, US.

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“She last came to India in December 2019. Covid-19 pandemic last year kept her from coming to us,” said Mr Srivastava.

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