Dr. Madhulika Guhathakurta
As a NASA astrophysicist, Dr. Madhulika Guhathakurta (also known as Lika) has had the opportunity to work as a scientist, mission designer, instrument builder, directing and managing science programs and teacher and spokesperson for NASA’s mission and vision in the Heliophysics Division. Occasionally, she performs all of these roles in a single day. Before joining NASA Headquarters in December of 1998, her career has focused on studying the importance of the scientific exploration of space in particular understanding the Sun as a star and its influence on the planet Earth, with research focus on understanding the magnetohydrodynamics of the Sun’s outermost layer, the solar corona.
She has been a Co-Investigator on five Spartan 201 missions on aboard space shuttles (STS-56, STS-64, STS-69, STS-87, STS-95) to study the solar corona in white-light and UV radiation and ten eclipse expeditions. She has led the Living with a Star Program for the past 15 years. LWS focuses on understanding and ultimately predicting solar variability and its diverse effects on Earth, human technology and astronauts in space, also known as “Space Weather” and has been program scientist for STEREO, SDO, Van Allen Probes, Solar Obriter, Parker Solar Probe and other missions. As part of LWS, Dr. Guhathakurta created and managed a theory, modeling and data analysis program to integrate scientific output, data, and models to generate a comprehensive, systems understanding of Sun-Heliosphere-Planets coupling.
Dr. Guhathakurta also helped create and led an international initiative known as the International Living With a Star that brings together all the space agencies of the world to contribute towards the scientific goal for understanding space weather. Dr. Guhathakurta is a past co-chair and an active member on the inter-agency group Committee on Space Weather of the National Space Weather Program and helped create Space Weather as permanent agenda item in United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) in 2013. She has partnered with the American Museum of Natural History in New York and NASM in DC to produce full dome planetarium and 3D IMAX shows that are being exhibited internationally and used by teachers to excite the next generation of space scientists and created graduate level textbooks in heliophysics. She is also the lead scientist for the 2017 Eclipse and presently on detail to NASA Ames Research Center exploring concepts for new initiatives. She is presently serving a one year detail at NASA Ames Research Center as the Lead Program Scientist for New Initiatives in the Exploration Technology Directorate. A native of India, Dr. Guhathakurta has a master’s degree in Astrophysics from the University of Delhi and a PhD degree in physics from the University of Denver.