I, Anima

I am a Scientist-Astronaut Candidate (Commercial Space Projects), a Software and Aerospace Engineer, have been working for NASA, a pilot, a scuba-diver, NASA Speaker, NASA Girls Mentor, BoyScout’s Assistant Scout Master, STEM advocate, NASA Astronaut Aspirant, Artist, Singer, Dancer, Performer, Model, all this and more.

I have a MS Aerospace Engineering (San Jose State University), MS Computer Applications & BS Physics (North Maharashtra University). I completed my schooling at St. Josephs Convent Highschool, Jalgaon, India.

An astronaut aspirant, I am working towards this childhood dream and making the best of the opportunities I am getting this late in life. I am passionate about Human Space Exploration, Long Duration SpaceFlights & Human Factors involved in SpaceFlight.

Prior to the current role, I worked on the Kepler Mission in the Science Operations Center as a Senior Principal Software Engineer;  it was great fun being a small contributor to a team that found planets in our galaxy!

I got to be the Commander for HERA VII, a 14 day sim at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in June 2015. HERA VII was a 715 day mission condensed into a 14 day simulation to asteroid GeoGraphos. As an analog astronaut, I participated in psychological, medical and cognitive studies. I performed systems maintenance of our ‘spacecraft’ habitat, worked on science experiments and all things astronauts would work on, on such a long duration mission.

In Spring 2016, I got selected and I trained as a Scientist-Astronaut Candidate for Project PoSSUM – Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere; a project supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. You can read more about it here.

I am a Citizen-Scientist Astronaut Candidate for Project PHEnOM – Physiological, Health, and Environmental Observations in Microgravity; one of the world’s first commercial human spaceflight research programs, training and utilizing citizen scientist-astronauts and mission support specialists to carry out its mission objectives.

I am also a First Tier Support Engineer for another sim called the Hi-SEAS, which is a Mars Analog Mission on the isolated region of Mauna Loa side of Big Island of Hawaii.

I have participated in a Simulated Fluid Loading Study at NASA, am a member of the NASA Ames Speakers Bureau. Here’s a link on our Kepler website about some of my talks: http://kepler.nasa.gov/news/keplerinthenews/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowNews&NewsID=346

I am a PADI Certified Open Water Scuba Diver, a student pilot, a NASA Girls Mentor, Boy Scouts of America – Assistant Scout Master for boyscouts and a Den Leader for cubscouts, plus a First Lego Robotics League Coach.

I am an artist: Dancer, Singer, I love sketching & painting, I make impromptu Poetry, and excellent Rangolis. I love sharing our culture so I have been setting up & hosting cultural booth representing India at NASA’s Diversity & Inclusion Event since 2012. I choreograph, teach and participate in group dances in cultural events at work and in our community. I do the same for our youngsters as well. I would never give up my astronaut aspirations for anything else but since I am often asked, if not an astronaut or an engineer, I would be an actor as I love performing.

While I pursue my childhood dream, I plan on pursuing research in, and contributing towards, space exploration. Sharing my experiences and knowledge with the younger generation is a passion. I love providing them the guidance that I missed out on growing up. Thank you for visiting my website and following my journey!

24 thoughts on “I, Anima

  1. Sharadchandra patil

    u r work and struggle to achieve the goal is very inspirational for todays girls…especially in maratha background….

    best wishes for ur bright future….
    let the Indian Tricolor higher and higher with u….


  2. Purushottam Pawar

    Dear Anima,
    First of all we as Indian and then Maharashtrian, and finally Khandeshi are proud of you for being a important part of NASA Mission.

    My eight years old grand daughter has a dream to be an Astronaut. Now you will be an icon for her.

    All our blessings to you. Achive everything you have dreamed. Remain haPPy & healthy.

    Purushottam Pawar,
    Vasai ; Maharashtra India.

    ( Founder & Vice-president of The Federation of Organ & Body Donation Maharashtra )


  3. Rupam Chaukekar

    It is fantastic to know your achievements. You have done us proud. You are multi talented and may God bless you with achieving all that you desire.


  4. Sylvia

    Congrats and definitely you will achieve your goal. My son is very keen in being astronaut – loves reading space books.

    Could you please guide him?

    All the best to your future.


  5. Your achievements and story is very inspiring. I am proud that i am from same hometown as you are. More proud that you are an Indian women achieving so many things at NASA. All the best for future endeavors. Take care. Warm regards.


  6. Varun Singala

    Congratulations ma’am, we are very proud of you. Even I’m very much interested into this field. Will I be able to get into NASA or ISRO by doing BSc in Astrophysics and then by pursuing MSc.
    Really confused, you’re the best person to guide me. Please do the needful.
    Thank you so much


  7. RM

    Hello Animaji,
    I have very specific and practical question for you.
    I’m bachelor from Mechanical Engineering and aspiring for the aerospace(simulation and analysis) and eventually for NASA. I’m in process of applying for MS in aerospace but could find lot of reluctance from seniors stating that there’d be very job opportunities for Indians after MS(aerospace) in US. Convoluted me, could you please guide me in selecting the course which will at least ensure my job security after Masters and also bolster my aspiration to join NASA with mechanical background.
    Eagerly waiting for your reply since I’m in last phase of applications; and your respond gonna count!
    Thanking you in an anticipaation

    Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India


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