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India-born researcher led NASA's sounding rockets mission during solar eclipse

A total solar eclipse is seen in Dallas, Texas on Monday, April 8, 2024. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the North American continent from Mexico's Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of Central America and Europe. (Photo: NASA/ Keegan Barber)

MUMBAI (PTI): NASA's mission that launched sounding rockets during the recent total solar eclipse was led by Aroh Barjatya, an India-born researcher who studied in cities across the country before moving to the United States, his family said.

The US space agency on April 8 launched three sounding rockets during the solar eclipse – visible in North America – to study how Earth's upper atmosphere is affected when sunlight momentarily dims over a portion of the planet.

"The mission was led by Aroh Barjatya, a professor of engineering physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, where he directs the Space and Atmospheric Instrumentation Lab," NASA said in a statement.

The ‘Atmospheric Perturbations around Eclipse Path (APEP)’ sounding rockets were launched from the agency's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

"My deepest gratitude to all my fellow researchers at collaborating institutions and insanely capable and stellar students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, as well as, most crucially, to everyone at NASA Wallops Sounding Rocket Program Office and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for helping accomplish six complex rocket missions in six months!!!" Aroh said in a post on LinkedIn after the launch.

Son of Ashok Kumar Barjatya, a chemical engineer, and Rajeshwari, a homemaker, Aroh did his schooling in Patalganga near Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Pilani, Solapur, and completed his electronics engineering from Walchand Institute of Technology, Solapur.

He moved to the US in 2001 and completed his masters in electrical engineering at Utah State University, said his sister Apurva Barjatya, herself a mechanical engineer. He later pursued his PhD in spacecraft instrumentation from the same university, she said.

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