In a heartening development, NASA has shortlisted an Indian woman Shawna Pandya for its 2018 space mission under the Citizen Science Astronaut (CSA) program. 32-year old Pandya is an Indian-origin neurosurgeon based in Canada. If she makes it to the final list, she will be the third Indian-origin woman to join NASA’s space program, after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
Pandya currently works at the Alberta University Hospital in Canada. Her grandmother lives in Mahalaxmi area in Mumbai. Pandya was shortlisted, as she had scored top marks in the CSA program. Pandya can be described as a multifaceted personality, as she has various achievements to her credit, in addition to her professional career. Her bio-data lists her various skills such as an opera singer, an international champion in taekwondo and trained in Muay Thai by a Navy SEAL.
Pandya said that she is currently being trained as a citizen scientist and would be conducting various experiments related to bio-medicine and medical science. Physiological, health, and environmental observations in Microgravity (PHEnOM) will also be part of her space mission. She is also part of a team that is working on observing the effects of climate change.
The space mission will start in early 2018. Pandya said that she has received plenty of support from her family, including her mother. Space mission was always Pandya’s dream and now it is likely to come true.