ISWI Newsletter - Vol.4 No.35
01 April 2012

From: Bob Benson robert.f.benson[at]
Dan Swift dswift[at]

Passing of Raghaviyengar (Sardi) Parthasarathy 1929 - 2012

Sardi Parthasarathy passed away on 7 March 2012 in Laurel, Maryland at the age of 82 from complications after a stroke. Sardi retired from his work as a contractor at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2010.

He worked at Goddard since 1984 in the National Space Science Data Center, the Space Science Data Operations Office, the Space Physics Data Facility, and the Heliospheric Physics Laboratory. In his work at Goddard he was a consistent presence and contact for the World Data Center-A, via its "Spacecraft Warning Bulletins" that sent announcements of worldwide spacecraft launches to a worldwide community for more than two decades, and he was instrumental in maintaining the Satellite Situation Center and other essential services at Goddard based on his expertise in coordinate systems and trajectory calculations.

He was born in Tamil Nadu, India in 1929, received a B.Sc. (Hons) from Annamalai University in 1950 and a M.S. (Physics) from Annamalai University in 1952 in India. He was involved with space science since Sputnik in 1957 when, as a researcher in New Delhi, he was tasked with monitoring transmissions from this first orbiting satellite with special radio equipment. He joined the Geophysical Institute (GI) of the University of Alaska in 1958 where he conducted pioneering experiments with colleague F. T. Berkey on the radio noise emitted from precipitating auroral electrons.

In the mid-1960`s he found concurrences between phenomena in the magnetotail and the auroral zone that were incompatible with the then prevalent theories of aurora.

During a year of leave from the GI in 1968-1969, he had responsibilities for the concept, design and instrumentation of the Earth Reflecting Ionospheric Sounder (a forerunner of the SEASAT satellite) aboard a Lockheed satellite.

Sardi was a Senior Member of the International Electrical and Electronic Engineers, since 1959, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, UK, since 1960, and a member of the American Astronomical Society, UK, since 1963, the Astronomical Society of Australia, since 1967, and the American Geophysical Union since 1976, and a professor of Physics (Emeritus) at the University of Alaska.

His work was recognized by numerous NASA awards and by membership in the International Geophysical Year (IGY) Gold Club, which is a major initiative of the International Union of Geodesy and Geomagnetism and the International Heliophysical Year to honor those who were directly involved in IGY activities during 1957-1958.

Sardi was a kind person of high character who had a broad interest in science and a wealth of experience. He is survived by his wife Sarada and daughter Hemai.

(courtesy: SPA Newsletter Vol XIX issue 21,
and Dr Nat Gopalswamy.)

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