NASA on Thursday clarified that no Indian student had been offered a chance to be part of the “Goddard Internship Program” — such a progam, it said, does not even exist.
Responding to reports in India about an 18-year-old girl from West Bengal bagging the “prestigious internship”, NASA’s Public Affairs Specialist Leslie McCarthy told IndianExpress.com: “The program noted by multiple Indian media outlets does not exist. We have no record of any student named Sataparna Mukherjee being granted an internship, scholarship or any form of academic award from our institute or by NASA.”
Over the past three days, the story of the 18-year-old girl from West Bengal getting an internship with NASA has been picked up by many mainstream media houses — The Indian Express did not report it — and celebrated on social media.
The reports said Mukherjee, a Class XII student, has been selected for the Goddard Internship Program under Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). In fact, no ‘Goddard Internship Program’ exists.
McCarthy clarified that the education program is called the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) for which applications closed on March 1. “Applications for our summer program are currently under review. Selections have not been made,” she added.
Going by the protocol of the institute, only students living within 50 miles of the location in New York City are awarded internships, McCarthy admitted.
The reports said Mukherjee will get to complete her graduation, post-graduation and PhD at NASA’s London Astrobiology Centre, which also unfortunately does not exist. “The Goddard Institute for Space Studies has no facilities in London,” confirmed McCarthy.
A response is awaited from Mukherjee.