Shailesh Nayak. Credit: Ajantagoswami photo via Wikipedia

BANGALORE, India —  Shailesh Nayak, secretary of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, has been given the extra charge as secretary of the Department of Space following the retirement of Koppillil Radhakrishnan Dec. 31.

Nayak  will hold the additional responsibility for one month effective Jan. 1, or until a new candidate  is appointed or pending a further order, according to an announcement by the Indian cabinet’s appointment committee. Typically, the secretary of the Department of Space also serves as chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

A geologist by training, Nayak, 61, launched his career with ISRO in 1978. He had worked at ISRO’s Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad until 2008, when he left to head the Earth Sciences Ministry.

Radhakrishnan, who was appointed Secretary of the Department of Space and ISRO chairman in 2009, had seen his term in those positions extended twice, most recently this past August. An additional  extension was ruled out under the policy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deny extensions to retiring officials.

Based in Bangalore, Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was formerly science editor of the...