Reshma Krishnan Sudha

PhD student in the “Space Interferometry” group

What is your current position at our institute?

I’m a PhD student in the Space Interferometry group.

What is your academic education?

  • Bachelor of Technology in Electronics and Communication
  • Master of Science in Space Sciences and Technologies

How and when did you choose to do physics?

When I was doing my bachelors it became clearer to me that I enjoyed and was fascinated in learning space science and so I transitioned my study path in my masters followed by my PhD.

Did you have someone who acted as a role model or mentor to you in the past, or does so in the present?

It's hard to mention one particular person as a role model. It’s many people I hear of or meet along the way who inspire me.

What is the most important thing you learned from them?

My most important take away is to be consistent in pursuing what you want to achieve.

Please describe your research in language understandable to scientists from other fields.

You may have heard of the GRACE and GRACE-FO satellite missions, which have provided us with very relevant data on changes in the Earth’s gravitational field over the past two decades. This information helps us to understand mass changes on Earth, study the oceans and geology, and track indicators of climate change. Until now, the primary method used to measure the distance changes between the two flying satellites has been a microwave ranging system. From these distance changes, the gravitational field of our planet and its changes are obtained. Onboard GRACE-FO, a very successful Laser Ranging Interferometer (LRI) has been used as a technology demonstrator. In future missions, the much more precise LRI will be used as the sole and main instrument. And one part of the LRI is where my current work lies. I work on analyzing the response of the steering mirror, which is used to control the misalignment of the local laser beam and the one received from the other spacecraft. Various tests are being performed to understand its behavior for its future use.

Please let us know why you chose the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics for your research.

I first came to this Max Planck Institute as a master’s student. The friendliness of the people here, the interaction and exchange of science and ideas, the support, all add up to make this the best place to do research, and the people here are doing really cool stuff!

What would you recommend to a young woman wanting to start a career in physics?

I think it’s scary to start anything new but unless you give it a try you wouldn’t know if it’s exciting for you or not. Physics is a pretty interesting field and I’m sure you will be fascinated to learn if you stay curious.

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