Crew 174 - Team Planeteers
Mamatha Maheshwarappa (Crew Commander)
Dr Mamatha Maheshwarappa received her BEng in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bangalore in 2009. She was the systems engineer and subsystem core leader for STUDSAT-1- India’s first pico-satellite, designed and developed by undergraduate students and launched by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO’s) PSLV C-15. Later she received MSc in Space Technology and Planetary Exploration in 2012 and PhD in Software Defined Radios (SDRs) for Multi-Satellite Communications in 2016 from University of Surrey, UK. During her PhD she also worked on UK’s first CubeSat (STRaND-1) with SSTL and on DeorbitSail projects. Currently working at QinetiQ Space UK on transceivers for ExoMars, Lunar Polar Sample Return (LPSR) missions in collaboration with European Space Agency (ESA).
She is the Crew Commander of the first Indian crew, Team Planeteers (Crew 174) at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), the Mars analog research base. Her role includes supervising and coordinating the team, carrying out research on transference of human commensal bacteria along with developing zoning methodology for planetary protection, and overseeing other research projects such as sample protocol implementation to minimize astronaut contamination of Mars sample of interest with NASA’s Astrobiology Institute and monitoring the effect of vitamins on growth of fenugreek plants in a controlled martian analog environment.
Saroj Kumar (Crew Scientist and Executive officer)
Saroj is a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), where he is currently pursuing MS in Aerospace Systems Engineering. He is a research student at the Propulsion Research Center, UAH and is working on ‘Mission design for low thrust deep space missions using nuclear fusion propulsion’ in collaboration with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He is also currently serving as the President for the Propulsion Research Center Student Association at the University.
He has been selected as the scientist of Crew-174 (‘Team Planeteers’-First all Indian crew) for the Mars analogue mission at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), Utah. During his mission at MDRS he will be performing study on human-associated microbial contamination on planet Mars and sample protocol implementation to minimize astronaut contamination of Mars sample of interest with NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.
Saroj is originally from Kanpur, India and has Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electronics and Communication from Reva Institute of Technology, Bangalore. He is passionate about space exploration and wants to see humanity a multi-planet species one day. His penchant for space exploration led him to work on many exciting projects such as development of Attitude Determination and Control System for Project STUDSAT-2 in collaboration with ISRO, analyzing scientific data of Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft to find Coronal Holes and examine for jets at the National Space Science and Technology Center of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and design and testing of SOFIE receiver for German Aerospace Center, DLR.
Sneha Velayudhan (Crew Biologist)
Sneha is a graduate student in the Department of Engineering, Computers and Telecommunication Engineering Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is specializing in Advanced Wireless Communication Systems and has worked as research assistant in setting up ground station to track and communicate with small satellites.
Sneha is originally from Bangalore and is now based in Rochester, NY. She has Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical and Electronics from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bangalore. During her bachelors, Sneha was a student member of Project STUDSAT (STUDent SATellite), India’s first Pico Satellite in collaboration with Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). She worked on setting up ground station NASTRAC (Nitte Amateur Satellite Tracking Center) for tracking and communicating with small satellites. After graduation, she worked as Research Associate where she led the team of Electrical Power System for Project STUDSAT-2 in collaboration with ISRO.
Her interest in space technology for human exploration has helped her on being selected as a biologist of Crew-174 mission at Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Her research at MDRS will be on monitoring the effect of vitamins on growth of fenugreek plants in a controlled martian analog environment. The geologic similarity of MDRS with that of Mars will help in understanding the growth of plants over a period of time.
Arpan Vasanth (Crew Engineer and Crew Journalist)
Arpan H. Vasanth (B.Eng, 2009; MSc 2014) received his BEng. in Mechanical Engineering from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology, Bangalore in 2009. He was the subsystem core leader for STUDSAT-1- India’s first pico-satellite, designed and developed by undergraduate students and launched by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO’s) PSLV C- 15. He worked as Aerospace design engineer at TataHAL for a year in Bangalore, India. Later he received MSc in Commercial Vehicle Technology from Technical University Kaiserlslautern, Germany in 2014. Currently working at Faurecia Interior Systems in Germany.
As a crew engineer at MDRS, he will be involved in performing mechanical and electrical engineering tasks required in the Hab and for Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA). He is responsible for managing resources such as power, water, gasoline and spacesuits working condition. Along with these activities, he will be involved in microbiology, botany experiments and media outreach activities.
Sravani Vaddi (Crew Astronomer)
Dr. Sravani Vaddi is an astronomer and is currently working as a research fellow at National Center for Radio Astrophysics, India’s premier research institute in the field of radio astronomy. She has a Master degree in the Digital Electronics and Communication Systems with a specialization in Digital Image Processing. Her observational research focusses in the study of black holes and how it affects the evolution of a galaxy. She is actively involved in outreach activities with an aim to inspire younger generation in space research. She has given several talks and organized several events in the promotion of astronomy. Apart from astronomy, she loves singing and listening to music, playing tennis, hiking and recently in butterfly watching.
Sai Arun Dharmik (Crew Geologist)
Sai Arun Dharmik has received his Master’s degree in Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences from University of Hyderabad, India. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Osmania University, India with major in Geology and minor in Physics and Maths, in the year 2013.He research interests include Martian geomorphology, terrestrial analogues, glaciology and Climate change. His work in climate change involved simulations of geo-engineered climate and the effect of methane in climate change. He is passionate about Planetary Sciences and hopes to have a career in space exploration and discover new worlds.