Dr. Sanjay Vijendran trained as a physicist at Imperial College London and followed postgraduate studies in 3D semiconductor development at Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, UK.
His long interest in Mars exploration led him to a very fortunate opportunity of joining the Science Team of the NASA Phoenix Mars mission in 2006 while working as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Imperial College, where he was responsible for the development and testing of the MECA microscopy station, an instrument on Phoenix which included an optical and atomic force microscope.
After the successful Phoenix landing near the north pole of Mars in 2008, he was part of the operations team that operated the instruments on Mars for five months, producing the highest resolution images of Martian soil and dust ever to be taken on the Red Planet.
Following that, he moved to the European Space Agency's (ESA) technical heart in the Netherlands where he has since been responsible for planning and implementing the technology development program for future Mars missions as well as initiating and leading ESA's Penetrator Development Program since 2009.
Despite hailing from the tropics, his professional career has always involved very low temperatures, whether in semiconductor physics, the Martian arctic, or the icy moons of Jupiter!
Dr. Vijendran is currently leading the preparations at ESA towards a potential European contribution to an international campaign to return samples from Mars for the first time.