Chandrayaan 1 on Twitter

This article originally appeared on my blog I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

I tried tweeting as Chandrayaan1 on Twitter. Please do look at the feed and share your thoughts. I should have organised this a bit much more and announced it before the launch. But its never too late. This is the unofficial feed.

Also, if you were in a big group when you watched the launch, please do send me the name of your group and where you watched the launch from, and I shall be happy to add it to the Chandrayaan 1 feed.

How can youth be more proactive in helping shape our space programme?

This article originally appeared on my blog I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

Bijal Thakore, recently on the Planetary Society board, asked people: How can youth be more proactive in helping shape our space programs? This is not really an exact reply to that question but is a first general hit in that direction. Let’s see where the thought process goes.

  1. Outreach is a good place to start and learn things that you don’t know about. It’s also a good way to show people in space missions/projects etc. how passionate you are on a subject or in a field. I believe that is the extent to which outreach can be pushed. It gives you a sense of recognition for your passion.
  2. The second thing to get involved – specially students is to understand their own country’s space policy. Organisations like SEDS, Planetary Society etc. can bring this closer to the people by breaking down such policy into things which today’s youth can understand and offer implications of these actions on them.
  3. The third thing is to get involved in projects. Projects are much better way to understand the complexities that a space scientist faces during his design and fabrication. Taking part in a project is also a good excuse for an educational institution to develop their own infrastructure. But it does take a lot of effort and hard work, but it’s fun.
  4. The fourth thing is events. These are the best platforms to showcase what you have done in your sphere of interest. It is also a place to make the public involved in your activities and even if just for a moment, to share the thrill that members of organisations get to have daily. This is also a place where organisations grow with people wanting to have the thrill for the rest of the year and possibly, rest of their life time.

All in all, this is not a complete roadmap to changing around a space programme into a direction where timelines can crushed to get things done faster. This is just enough to get a swell of ground support so that what you do matters to people with power and money to get your work done.

Chandrayaan 1 countdown begins

This article originally appeared on my blog I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

After what is termed as a “dress rehersal” yesterday night succeededChandrayaan-1’s countdown should have started up today morning. I think what they are referring to as a dress rehersal is going through all the steps of the launch right up to the final step without actually launching the launch vehicle (just a fancy technical name for a rocket with a payload). Things have now moved into their final phase.

Space bloggers like Emily Lakdawalla is claiming the difficulty in getting images of Chandrayaan I online. It might be difficult to see a total lack of images or information after being used to bombarded with information via websites and mailing lists. ISRO doesn’t have a good website or a good mailing list. ISRO’s Chandrayaan I website may have been well designed but it hasn’t been updated for the past 17 months. 

One of the claims that this mission was supposed to do, was to encourage excitement among the younger generation for the space sciences. This was iterated several times by the Prime Minister himself. Looking at the number of people online today, I believe that ISRO should have presented their stuff online in a much more better way than has been  done. For this historic launch too, everything has been left for the media to piece and stitch together. I believe mediapersons were given a grand tour of the launch site at Sriharikota, but nothing significant has come out of it.

There are a few people working though. Times of India’s Srinivas Laxman’s coverage (see related stories for the latest) has been outstanding, though not well timed with the launch. NDTV’s Pallava Bagla, who also co-wrote a book has some excellent coverage and a good dedicated website for India’s Moon Yatra.

In the CitizenSpace efforts to popularize Chandrayaan I launch, my friend, Raghunandan (Planetary Society, India) constant pleas for material on Chandrayaan almost fell on deaf ears. The electronic data that he now has in his hands is, in his words, “quite awesome”. He is now in transit, trying to get an unofficial glimpse of the Chandrayaan I launch. He hasn’t been able to put the content online but will be happy to forward the material to you after the launch. Catch him on his email id – planetarysocietyindia (at) gmail (dot) com. 

I am also planning to carry a series of articles on how students today can benefit from Chandrayaan I’s launch on October 22 in a series of six articles on the SEDS India blog. To sign off, the media is the best place to catch the latest action in the Chandrayaan I launch arena. I’ve tried my best to try and get some of the content online and I accept, failed but I hope the lessons I have learnt enroute will help me in future launches.

People behind Chandrayaan-1

On Chandrayaan I’s coverage on NDTV there are exclusive interviews with the scientists and technicians who have made the various online instruments on board Chandrayaan I.

  1. Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai – He’s the Project Director of Chandrayaan I. There was a small note about him in the Times of India. He said designing Chandrayaan 1 was like writing lyrics for a set tune. He’s also from a district next door to my home town. He’s from near Pollachi, Coimbatore.
  2. J A Kamlakar – an expert on LASERS. His instrument on board Chandrayaan I will help measure height variation on the moon’s surface.
  3. Dr. Manuel Grande – Principal Investigator CIXS ( Chandrayaan I Xray Sepctrometer). Doug Ellison made an animation on this instrument.
  4. Dr. Urs Mall – SIR 2 (Near Infra Red Spectrometer)
  5. Dr. Stas Barabash – SARA

I’m sure that the names indicate to you the international team that has instruments on board the Chandrayaan I. It is a special feeling to have your instruments on board a space craft and to see it fly and I hope every one of you gets an opportunity to have that experience. The last rant doesn’t mean that the technology and people behind Chandrayaan 1 isn’t cool, just that it would be a lot cooler if they shared some of their thoughts with us.

The specialised NDTV page on Chandrayaan is here.

Impact of Space Debris, 50 Years after Space Age

Building and launching satellites is all fun. But, after it has surpassed its usefulness it basically stays there in orbit. There are a few things that can be done to ensure that satellites are de-orbited after use.

India’s own space debris policy was presented in a paper in the Current Science Magazine. India is a member of two organisations that deals with the problems of space debris – United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and the Inter-Agency Space Debris Co-ordination Committee (IADC). A recent paper by V Adimurthy, M Y S Prasad and S K Shivakumar titled “Space Mission Planning and Operations”, published in the Current Science magazine in Vol. 93 No. 12, had this to say on the topic:

In the design of PSLV final stage, which uses earth-storable liquid propellants, a propellant venting system has been designed. ISRO’s launch vehicle, GSLV, also employs passivation of the cryogenic upper stage at the end of its useful mission. In the operational phase, the last stage of PSLV has been  passivated beginning with PSLV-C4, which was successfully launched in September 2002. With the implementation of this passivation, the possibility of on-orbit fragmentation has been minimized in all the future flights of PSLV. India’s launch vehicles, PSLV and GSLV, and the satellites IRS, INSAT and GSAT series are designed in such a way that no  operational debris is created in the launch and deployment phases of the mission.

That seems to be pretty comprehensive. The paper further states that most of the Indian satellites are re-robited “on a case-by-case basis, consistent with national service requirements”. ISRO also has developed a space debris proximity analysis software that it uses regularily to keep a watch on currently active satellites, planning launch windows and launches with minimum debris and study the break-up fragmentation during launch.

BBC World Service (radio) is broadcasting a series called One Planet. The topic for this week is Space Debris.

Go to the above link for an audio preview. You can also generally listen to the show online but it’s not as fun as listening to it on radio is much more fun.

Celebrate World Space Week

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on October 4, 2008 as per the permalink. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Want to celebrate world space week?

1. Learn about your country’s space agency.
2. Talk about it to as many people as possible.
3. Write, paint, click or record your experiences.

For example, if you’re from INDIA, go to Wikipedia or search on the web to learn more about India’s space agency – ISRO. Talk to people about the SITE experiment, Edusat or Chandrayaan. Celebrate space!

imagiLOGUES – Day 2

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on October 1, 2008 as per the permalink. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

It’s been a long day. I was walking around in the market place when I saw the amazing innovation that this country could produce. Small motorized water boats that run around in a bowl of water, many pocketed transparent purses, innovative ways of arranging fruits and vegetables. And still, people believe that we are not progressing.

I talked to a Rajesh Dora who runs a school for blind children. He told me about how people come there, look at the boys and girls studying there with pity, talk to them about their suffering and they go away happy that they have done their part. I tell him that I can’t promise more than that, myself. For some reason he remains quiet. The Government supports the venture generously and he gets enough donations to run the school properly. I get his email address and offer him the link to my blog.

He makes a request asking if I could guide the kids around the space museum. I oblige. I spend about 3 hours there looking through the books that they used to feel and talking to them about what they want to be.

Blind children in Helix are supported by the Government since three hundred years. It’s one of the rear gifts of the Dora dynasty who had a vast wealth which they invested in social causes through a series of foundations and committees. Even our national space programme is funded partly by one such foundation.

The Foundation does great work to publish books on space science for students interested in becoming a part of the space organisation. There is even a plan that the Sohrab Foundation has proposed to send a blind man in a space mission. Last I knew they were talking about it with the Human Space Complex.

After this, I go into the outskirts of Sohrab on a municipal bus. They’re using a positioning system on board to trace their route and enabling passengers to recognise their stops. There is even a voice system on board to tell the stop in the local language and English.

After a twenty minute ride, I get to the Horsborg Centre for Development Studies. I am scheduled to meet young Anjali Dora. She’s Rajesh’s wife and is heading the centre here which also comes under the Dora Foundation. The books that I saw in Rajesh’s office are from here. The centre is unique in that it has undertaken the project of voicing over and making visuals of the several historic documents. I’m here to review how our long distance education module is working. We take a hot cup of coffee and some buiscuits in her office.

She’s the one who gave me the idea of this road trip. We met before through this blog and I offered her the chance of setting up a distance education institute on campus through the Centre I work in to enable her to transmit her videos to schools which require special courses without local expertise being available. She jumped at the idea and after our first meeting talked about a road trip she had taken along with Rajesh through all the Dora foundation centres. I’m not doing the same. Although, these two stops have been Dora Foundation centres.

I reviewed the progress of the module, sent emails back to office with several requests and got back on the road. As I upload this via satellite link, I’m travelling north to Louisville, my second stop.

(IMAGILOGUES – these are imaginary travelogues. People, places, mentioned are all imaginary. IF you happen to be from the same place or have the same name, let me assure that I didn’t mean to use it and that it was purely co-incidental.)