The Three Indian-Origin Scientists Behind Nasa's James Webb Space Telescope

The $10 billion telescope is considered to be the most powerful space science telescope ever built.

South Asians
2 min read
Edited By :Tejas Harad

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released on Tuesday, 12 July, the sharpest images of the universe by the James Webb Space Telescope.

The $10 billion telescope is considered to be the most powerful space science telescope ever built.

Behind the telescope were three Indian-origin scientists – Hashima Hasan, Kalyani Sukhatme, and Kartik Sheth.


Hashima Hasan

The Deputy Program Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, Lucknow-born Hashima Hasan is the NASA Program Scientist for NuSTAR, the Keck Observatory, and ADCAR (Astrophysics Data Curation and Archival Research).

In a video for NASA, she spoke about how her interest in space developed.

"I grew up in India, and first got fascinated with space when my grandmother took us all to the backyard to see Sputnik. I was five at that time. I was really excited and wanted to become a scientist."

Hasan graduated from Aligarh Muslim University and studied at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. She then had a brief stint at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

She received a doctorate from the University of Oxford in theoretical nuclear physics.

Hasan was the Optical Telescope Assembly Scientist at Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, till 1994, after which she joined NASA.

Kalyani Sukhatme

Born to two mathematics professors, Kalyani Sukhatme grew up in Mumbai, India, and got her first degree – a Bachelor of Technology in engineering physics from the IIT Mumbai in 1993.

She was awarded the Institute Silver Medal, according to the NASA James Webb Space Telescope website.

Her master's in physics in 1995 was obtained from the University of California, Irvine, and her doctorate in physics in 1997 from the same university.

Sukhatme has been at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory full-time since 1998, where she has won five team awards from 2004 to 2009.

She is also the recipient of the European Space Agency James Webb Space Telescope award for significant achievement in 2012.


Kartik Sheth

For the past seven years, according to NASA's website, Sheth has been working as a programme scientist in both the Astrophysics and Earth Science Divisions.

His job includes overseeing space missions, along with research and development programmes. He also works towards the fulfillment of the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

Previously, he was the Assistant Director for Research Infrastructures and Science Equity in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President at the White House.

He also served as the Director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Sheth founded a non-profit called Empowered Earth Alliance, whose objective is to empower local leaders with scientific and business knowledge so they can work independently towards sustainability.

In 2022, he won the NASA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award for his work leading the Anti-Racism Action group, along with other work at the agency.

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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