Indian-American Scientist Aims for Stratospheric Record

Image Credit: Moneycontrol

Indian-American scientist Swati Varshney, along with two other young women explorers, has been selected by a non-profit organization focused on promoting young women’s participation in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math), for a groundbreaking mission. They are part of the “Hera Rising Initiative,” which aims to send the first woman to jump from the stratosphere, breaking world records in the process.

The daring jump will take place at an altitude of 42.5 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Rising United announced this historic endeavor on X (formerly Twitter), emphasizing its significance for female equality and STEAM education. Alongside Swati Varshney, the other two finalists are Eliana Rodriguez of Colombian origin and Diana Valerín Jiménez from Costa Rica.

These three women will undergo rigorous 18-month training to prepare for this extraordinary feat. Ultimately, only one of them will make the historic jump, while the remaining two will continue to support the mission from the ground and engage in educational outreach efforts.

The stratosphere, where this remarkable feat will occur, is Earth’s second atmospheric layer, reaching heights of approximately 12 to 50 kilometers (7 to 31 miles) above the planet’s surface. Temperatures in the stratosphere plummet to as low as -80°C (-112°F) at the stratopause.

Swati Varshney, a materials science PhD graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, shared her excitement, comparing her career journey to skydiving. She described her tandem skydiving experience as an absolute blast, leading to a deep comfort with freefall. Her skydiving adventure has become a parallel pursuit of knowledge alongside her academic career. Swati has accumulated over 1,200 jumps, specializing in vertical freefall.

Re-reported from the article originally published in Moneycontrol

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