Narendra Bhandari obtained the BSc and MSc degrees from Rajasthan University. He served as Lecturer in Physics at MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur. Later, he joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and obtained his PhD degree, working on atmospheric radioactivity, from University of Bombay. He was post doctoral Fellow and later Assistant Research Chemist at the University of California, San Diego. In 1973 he shifted to the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.
Academic and Research Achievements: The research activities of Bhandari are related to cosmic ray produced radionuclides in the atmosphere, meteorites and the Moon. He detected several short lived radionuclides in rainwater and used many radionuclides as tracers for studying terrestrial, planetary and solar processes. In earth sciences, his work is related to geochemically identifying sedimentary horizons of Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary in Anjar (Gujarat) and Meghalaya, and the Permian-Triassic boundary in Spiti Valley, where mass extinction has occurred. In the field of glaciology he determined dynamical parameters of some glaciers in Kashmir and Sikkim Himalayas using radioactive tracers. Bhandari studied samples brought by the Apollo and Luna missions for cosmic ray tracks, radioactivity etc and determined solar and galactic cosmic ray fluxes in the past as also the mixing rates of lunar regolith. Using meteorites as monitors of cosmic rays, he determined the linear and cyclic trends in solar activity using the modulation effects of heliospheric magnetic field. He produced experimental evidence for radioactive Al-26 as source of melting of meteorite parent bodies within a few million years of formation of Solar system using the eucrite Piplia Kalan which fell in Rajasthan.
Other Contributions: Professor Bhandari set up the Planetary Sciences and exploration Program at Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. He defined the science objectives of the first Indian Mission to Moon proposed by ISRO and selected suitable payloads for this mission.
Awards and Honours: Bhandari was awarded the Vikram Sarabhai award in Planetary Sciences (1976) and the National Mineral award (1985) by Government of India. He is also a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, and the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad. For his work on lunar samples, he was given a Certificate of Special Recognition by NASA, and was elected President of the International Lunar Exploration Group during 2004-06.