Kalpana Chawla was born on March 17, 1962, she was the first woman of Indian origin to travel in space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster when the craft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. And now a hill on planet Mars will be named after this brave soul who was born in Karnal, Haryana, India. Recently, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has announced that the Martian hills, located in the east of the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover's landing site, would be dedicated to the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 crew. Administrator O'Keefe has been quoted on the official site of NASA as;
These seven hills on Mars are named for those seven brave souls, the final crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The Columbia crew faced the challenge of space and made the supreme sacrifice in the name of explorationAn image taken by the Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera of the Columbia Memorial Station and Columbia Hills is available on the Internet. [caption id="attachment_28870" align="alignnone" width="330"] Source[/caption] As a child, Kalpana loved to draw pictures of airplanes. After getting a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, she moved to the United States. There she obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and went on to earn a second Masters and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering. Chawla's remains were identified along with the rest of the crew members and were cremated and scattered at National Park in Utah in accordance with her wishes. She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, and several streets, universities, and institutions have been named in her honor.