Back in 2015, that was the day the whole world, especially Nepal, was eagerly waiting for. On September 28, 2015, the US space agency, NASA, came up with its research revelations on the ‘red planet’ – Mars.
The day was so special for Nepalese and remained a proud moment for the country, forever, as a young Nepali planetary scientist, Lujendra Ojha, was also in the group of NASA research scientists who played a pivotal role in research on Mars.
Ojha was then a 25-year-old PhD student of planetary science department at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
It was at the age of 21, Ojha spotted possible flow of saltwater on Mars. He was an undergraduate at the University of Arizona when he discovered the presence of water on mars, with compelling evidences on current & seasonal water flow.
Ojha’s revelations excited the scientific community, raising hopes on possible presence of life on the red planet.
The Other Side
Apart from being a scientist, there is another side of Ojha that portrays him as a guitarist in a heavy metal band called ‘Gorkha’. Besides being busy in the world of space science, Ojha wishes to continue his musical journey as a guitarist.
Ojha’s roots are traced to Mahadevsthan VDC, Doti of far-western Nepal. He was brought up in Kathmandu. Basically, a music-lover, Ojha identified his passion in life when he was studying at Kathmandu’s Galaxy Public School. It was Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ that changed Ojha’s thought process to pursue space sciences.
Ojha, along with his parents, moved from Nepal to the United States in 2005, at the age of 14. He joined Tuscon High School, and within few months of joining, he became part of a heavy metal band as a guitarist, along with friends. Post high school Ojha enrolled at the University of Arizona where his father Tank was working as a Geologist.
Tank says Ojha picked up his interest in earth and planetary science from the field trips he did in the remote areas of Nepal.
Wide Reputation Across Communities
Over the years, Ojha emerged as a space scientist gaining wide reputation across the scientific community. He has more than a dozen peer-reviewed research papers published. He was widely recognized for his research works and discoveries related to space.
Starting with Group Achievement Award: HiRISE Science Team from NASA, Ojha received wide recognition across his career, so far.
Be it receiving ‘Special Recognition Award’ from the Office of the Governor, Arizona- a southwestern US state, ‘Research Excellence Award’ from the National Science Foundation in 2015, ‘Team-X Merit Award’ from the Lunar and Planetary Institute in 2013, ‘First Place in Physical Science Research’- Annual Student Showcase (2012) & Honorary Presidents Award (2011) from the University of Arizona, Ojha really achieved a notable reputation in a short span, that too at a very young age.
Above all, he says, “With the profound knowledge that I am a unified mind and body composed of stardust, I am not doing science, I am merely trying to understand my genesis and share that knowledge.”