India’s space scientist Alur Seelin Kiran Kumar on Wednesday took charge as secretary of the department of space and also chairman of the Space Commission and the Indian space agency ISRO in Bangalore on a three-year term.
The 62-year-old ISRO’s veteran scientist was director of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad in Gujarat prior to his current appointment. He succeeds outgoing K. Radhakrishnan, who retired from on Dec 31 on superannuation.
In his four decades of service in the space agency’s satellite instruments and applications, Kiran Kumar began his work with Bhaskara satellite and contributed to the design and development of electro-optical imaging sensors for airborne, low Earth orbit and several geostationary orbit spacecrafts to colour camera, thermal infrared imaging spectrometer and methane sensor for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM).
“Kiran Kumar was instrumental in steering the MOM towards the Red Planet and its insertion in its maiden attempt Sep 24, 2014. He has also made significant contributions for the observation strategy encompassing land, ocean, atmospheric and planetary studies,” ISRO said in a statement.
Kiran Kumar graduated in physics in 1971 from the National College in Bangalore, obtained master’s in electronics from Bangalore University in 1973 and M.Tech in physical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in 1975, before joining the prestigious ISRO’s SAC. He became the director of SAC in March 2012.
“At SAC, Kiran Kumar steered the design, development and realisation of scientific instruments and application activities of Earth observation, communication, navigation, space science and planetary exploration,” said the statement.
A recipient of many national and international awards, including Padma Shri in 2014, Kiran Kumar has won the International Academy of Astronautics’ laurels for Cartosat (remote sensing satellite) and the country’s maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1.
Kiran Kumar is a fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering, the Indian Society of Remote Sensing, the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineer, and the Indian Meteorological Society. He is also a member of the International Academy of Astronautics.