Dr. Amitabh Ghosh, a 33-year-old geologist is the only Indian scientist engaged in NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers Mission.
When he was eight years old, Ghosh dreamed of boarding a bus that would take him to the nearest 'spaceport', from where he could take a shuttle to the moon, just like his favourite cartoon character, Tintin. Ghosh mastered in applied geology and eight years ago, he joined NASA, to fulfill his childhood dream and "further the frontiers of the unknown". Only, his destination changed from the moon to Mars.
Within a short time since he started working at NASA, Ghosh succeeded in carving a niche for himself in its history. He was the only Asian member in its 1997 Mars Pathfinder Mission Control. He named the rock at the site where the Pathfinder landed on 4 July, Jeddi. It was the name of a mutant of Leishmania donovani (a parasite which causes a disease like Kala-azar), on which his wife Anuradha was working for her PhD at that time. Ghosh was the first Indian to analyse Barnacle Bill, one of Mars' most famous rocks. He found out that the rocks on Mars were composed mainly of Andesite, a grey to black volcanic rock that may contain water, and not basalt as was the popular misconception. Ghosh was awarded the Nasa Mars Pathfinder Achievement award for his finding.
With the robot rover, Spirit on Mars, Ghosh like other scientists working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, is hopeful of waking up one morning to "realize that we are not alone in the universe".