Chandrayaan 1 on Twitter

This article originally appeared on my blog http://pradx.wordpress.com. 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 http://pradx.wordpress.com. 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 http://pradx.wordpress.com. 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.

Impact of Space Technology on Climate Change etc.

The recent developments in climate change after the announcement of the Inter Governmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) led by Dr. R. K. Pachauri have made it vital to understand the role that space technology can play in climate change (for me and other space cheerers).

Please go through the document given below. Besides giving ideas for future projects, it also provides more rationale for reasons why our country should pursue space exploration.

Report form the United Nations General Assembly in New York:
SPACE TECHNOLOGIES INDISPENSABLE TO CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE, FOOD SECURITY, HEALTH, FOURTH COMMITTEE HEARS DURING DEBATE ON PEACEFUL USES OF OUTER SPACE

Source: Space Generation Mailing List

Space Spin-off presentation at ISHRAE competition

The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) held their Mumbai eliminations of the national Project Idea competition in our college. I participated in the same and presented an idea that explored a possible space spin-off that I am eager to follow up on.

I presented the idea of using composite materials used in space crafts and which was recently tested by Space Reentry Experiment 1 by ISRO in use in building material so that they provide heating and cooling to the room inside.  Right now, the idea works only for totally insulated situations (like in space crafts). I am yet to work out how air circulation can be achieved within the room.

In the end, I visualise, temperature control by simple turning of fan dials and also adding a coat of composite material to be as simple as adding a coat of water proof paint on buildings. I wasn’t able to present it so well that they might select me to represent the Mumbai region for the national level competition but I am keen on following up with the technology aspects of this. It requires sufficient idea of material sciences.

(This idea is protected under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution and ShareAlike license as are rest of the content on this blog)

Special Astronomy Lecture

Nehru Planetarium cordially invites you to a Special Astronomy Lecture by Professor Srinivas Kulkarni, McArthur Professor of Astronomy and Professor of Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. USA.The topic of the lecture is “Cosmic Explosions” The lecture will be held on Friday, 24 October 2008 at 5 p.m. at Nehru Centre’s Hall of culture, Worli, Mumbai 400018.

If you’re gonna be there, buzz me before hand so that we can meet outside.

The Autorickshaw Trouble

There is an acute problem of autorickshaw shortage in the place where I stay. To try and understand why an autorickshaw does not ply to my colony, I did try talking to them but they have mostly been offensive or silence, about discussing the logic behind their plying. These are trade secrets, I guess.

Being a mode of public transport, they are expected to ply to any place that a passenger wants to go. This is not happening and the number of times this is not happening is increasing to alarming rates. As a result, although the place is swarming with autorickshaws, you have people standing on the edge of the road trying to hail one.

There were some media reports about how to send it to RTO and they will act on it, but I am darned if I can note the number of the autorickshaw in the middle of commotion of catching one. The worst affected are senior citizens and women with children, who are present in their swarming many in my colony.

There is no autorickshaw plying from my place to Chembur (W). This is because, as per their explanation, they can’t get back to Chembur (E) because of the high congestion on the bridge on the East bound traffic.
They aren’t even too rosy about plying to my area. The reason generally stated is that it is difficult to get a return fare.

I have been trying to rack my brain about how this problem could be solved and decided that more brains can work on this problem, more easily can they solve it.

One of the solutions is avoiding rickshaws altogether. Car pool, walk and cycle. But, that requires a community effort and kicking the rickshaw riding habit is pretty hard. In the meanwhile, I’m planning my walk to station. It’s good exercise and fun, if you have friends around you.