On his 89th birth anniversary, Google shared a doodle in honour of Udupi Ramachandra Rao, former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman and fondly known as 'India's Satellite Man'. The doodle shows a sketch of Professor Rao with a background of the Earth and shooting stars. Prof Rao, who passed away in 2017 lead the launch of India's first satellite, 'Aryabhata', in 1975.
Born in a remote village of Karnataka on this day in 1932, Prof Rao began his career as a cosmic-ray physicist and protege of Dr Vikram Sarabhai, a scientist widely regarded as the father of India's space program. After completing his doctorate, Prof Rao brought his talents to the US, where he worked as a professor and conducted experiments on NASA's Pioneer and Explorer space probes.
In 1966, he returned to India and started an extensive high-energy astronomy program at the Physical Research Laboratory, the country's premier institution for space sciences at the time. He spearheaded his country's satellite program six years later. After the success of Aryabhata satellite, Prof Rao oversaw the development of over 20 satellites that transformed much of rural India by advancing communication and meteorological services. Prof Rao, who was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1976 and Padma Vibhushan in 2017, took the helm of ISRO as its chairman in 1984 and headed the organisation for the next decade. He was instrumental in scientists understanding the solar cosmic-ray phenomena and the electromagnetic state of the interplanetary space.
In 2013, Professor Rao became the first-ever Indian to be inducted into the Satellite Hall of Fame. The same year PSLV launched India's first interplanetary mission 'Mangalyaan', a satellite that orbits Mars today.