Ashesh Prosad Mitra obtained his DPhil (1955) from University of Calcutta specializing in radio and space physics and environment. He served as Head, Radio Science Division and later Director at National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi; Director-General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, New Delhi and CSIR Bhatnagar Fellow at NPL, New Delhi.
Academic and Research Achievements: Mitra’s major work had been in the field of earth’s near-space environment, especially in ionosphere, and aeronomy, through ground-based and space techniques, and pioneering research in the emerging areas of ionospheric chemistry, stratoshper-mesosphere coupling, and the crucial role played by minor constituents in the lower ionosphere and mesosphere and in environment control. His pioneering work on cosmic radio nose for studying the upper atmosphere led to a series of discoveries in ionoshpere, solar physics and cosmic rays. He had contributed substantially to the establishment and operation of the International Spacewarn System and the International URSI Programme and World Day service. Over the last decade, Mitra has concentrated on the scientific aspects of global environmental hazards of human activities. His contributions to ozone problem had been far-reaching. He had prepared an inventory of greenhouse gases for India. He led global change science programme in India and South Asia and Indian programme for INDOEX. Along with TERI, he co-ordianted Indian component of ALGAS Programme. He also led Methane Asia Campaign 1998 (MAC-98). New areas of involvement included Megacities and Greehouse gas emissions (a programme of Asia Pacific Network), Climate Change and Human Health (India – UK Programme), UNFCCC related GEF activities, a synthesis report on South Asian Global Change Science for IGBP etc.
Other Contributions: Mitra is largely responsible for developing the Radio Research Division of NPL into one of the front-ranking research centers of the world. He steered the Indian Middle Atmoshpere Programme and made it one of the most successful campaigns the country has ever undertaken. As head of CSIR, he introduced many innovative schemes, one of them aimed at making the laboratories earn part of their finances through sponsorship from industry or other user bodies. Mitra had served COSPAR in various capacities; played a major role in International Geophysical Year (IGY, 1957-58), International Quiet Sun Year (IQSY, 1964-65) and International Middle Atmosphere Programme; Chairman, National Committee for International Union of Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (1991-94); Consultant, Defence Research Telecommunication Establishment, Canada (1952). Mitra had a large number of books to his credit either as author/co-author or as editor/editor. To mention a few: Advance in Space Exploration (1979) (ed); Ionospheric Effects of Solar Flares (author) (Reidel, 1974); Human Influences on Atmospheric Environment (author, 1980); served as regional editor of Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics; Chairman, editorial board of Indian Journal of Radio & Space Physics. (founder also).
Awards and Honours: Mitra received the SS Bhatnagar Prize (1968); KS Krishnan Memorial Lecture Award (INSA) (1975); Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow (1979-80); CV Raman Award (UGC) (1980); FICCI Award (1982); Om Prakash Bhasin Award (1987); CV Raman Medal (INSA) (1991); GM Modi Award (Gujar Mal Modi Science Foundation) (1992); Meghnad Saha Award (National Academy of Science (India), Allahabad (1991); Padma Bhushan (1989). He was a Fellow, Royal Society of London, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and President, National Academy of Science (India), Allahabad; President, International Union of Radio Sciences (URSI); Member, International Academy of Astronautics, and American Geophysical Union; Secretary, INSA (1979-82).