What’s the program, 2009

2008 has been overall not been too good. I’ve become lazy, stupid, careless, angry, unhealthy, addicted to GPRS and more committed to getting a job in ISRO! But, its helped in meeting more wonderful people, providing great insights into myself (during the lazy bouts), better awareness, a maturity and possibly a philosophy that I can call my own. It’s been wonderful to see all of these things melting together to package my life. But, I guess we always strive for better things in life and I think I could do with a little discipline.

On the agenda for 2009 are a slight weight loss and health gain, less lazy life, addition of interesting information, recapturing old interests and living life to the fullest again. Before today, I’ve never demanded but have always got my things through manipulation and creating under currents. I’ve been a bore because there was nothing working except my brain and you’ve gotta excuse the old bean for not coming up with things that I was doing when I was lazy. :)

So, let’s get to work on 2009, which is coming up in 4 days (assuming today is over and it’s 27th).

Let’s begin from health gain. I’ve never exercised in my life and therefore I’ve managed to grow in several directions and have had a great time being lazy. But, I guess from 2009 for about 30 more years, I’ll be working my ass off to satisfy myself and enjoy life to fullest before retiring and going lazy again! On the works are a spiritual and physical self-training program like no other. The program could have the side benefit of teaching me how to fix my own cycle, which is good in case I go out of a job with the continuing recession and all! It could also make me a master Yoga expert teaching 40 kids how to do Yoga to relieve stress from the work they do. Although, I don’t want to do either, but it’s cool no? This also involves an extension on the ban on fast food to everything. Personally, fast food aids me to lose all my pains. I almost use it like drugs. There’s nothing 2 samosas and a bottle of Coke won’t do for me. But, I’ll try and be off them even if it pains me.

Academics are a painful reality and I’m more than happy to be out of college in 2009. If there’s anything trying to stop me, I’m pretty sure it will not succeed. There’s nothing that will stop me from not graduating this year unless of course I die or if I battle deadly diseases never seen before by mankind or if a beautiful girl elopes with me (hopefully, that girl has enough money for both of us to survive cause I don’t) or perhaps all those other little things which rarely happen.

I almost hate everything that I have to study, so I’ll be taking up some notes that my friend Kirk has uploaded online along with a few books on mathematics, radio astronomy and computers. These will be a self-learning program along with learning many points in law. I think my friend, Raghunandan can help me with some law points. And last but not the least, I plan to do multiplication tables again!

From all the drab world we go to the world of the Internet. 2009 will see more of my life streams going online. My new cell phone enables me to upload videos and photos. If I can I also plan to participate in the 365 Days of Astronomy Programme. Let’s see how that goes. Keep watching this space here. Talking about this space, I have gone back to my old domain – http://www.pradx.org. Don’t have to move there now, I’ll only be moving in September 2009 when the furniture there will be ready for all of you and you’ll can come visit.

I plan to work in 3 projects overall. 1 is my final year undergrad project at Air India. The second is the Telescopes of India tour project. The last one is a bit of a secret for now, but I will reveal it at the appropriate time.

Past Week in Space #1

A hopefully weekly column in this blog that seeks to track the weekly space news. It doesn’t have the usual NASA/ESA traffic unless it is important. I think there are enough blogs/forums out there covering such things without having to add something of my own. The timeline is in reverse chronology.

  1. The NASA’s M3 team which has been discussing the science behind the mission on its blog announced the final result of its efforts by announcing that the M3 had found iron-bearing minerals on the lunar surface. Data from this 7 kg mapper on board Chandrayaan 1 provides an opportunity for scientists to look at the Moon with high spatial and spectral resolution.
  2. The ISRO chairman said that anyone who is “young, healthy, physically active and has a terrific spirit of adventure” can come and be a part of India’s cosmonaut corps. This is an oppertunity that I guess, many of you have been waiting for!
  3. Europe got its first dark sky park in southern Scotland this week. As the report clarifies further this is a recognised park by the International Dark-Skies Association. There are also only two other dark sky parks – one in Utah and another in Pennsylvania.
  4. Every Christmas the guys at the top-secret NORAD use their useful and super-secret equipment to track Santa. In this venture they have tied up with Know-it-All Google giants. Here is Santa going past the Taj Mahal(YouTube video) captured using its top secret web cams and advanced surviellance cameras. These cameras are used only once in a year to track Santa.
  5. ISRO also updated its website with more images from Chandrayaan 1’s . The images posted on the Chandrayaan 1 website has very poor captioning. I do hope that with the announcement of more missions like the manned space flight and mission to Mars, ISRO’s information skills improve. The images were updated on December 24.
  6. Chairman, ISRO announced a slew of missions at the CII conference in Delhi. Confirmed are the fact that Chandrayaan II’s design is ready and that the agency was on the road to putting a rover on the Moon by 2012. It also announced the year of India’s Mars Mission – 2013. Following these more robotic missions involved landing a space craft on an asteroid and a comet flyby mission. On the Indian human space flight front, Indians are going to fly on board a Russian space craft in 2013 and will fly in an indigenous space craft in 2015.
  7. A state of the art communication satellite jointly built by Antrix/ISRO and EADS Astrium for one of Europe’s largest telecom operators Eutelsat was successfully launched from Kourou, French Guyana. The satellite weighing a huge 3463 kgs lifted off on an Ariane-5 rocket at 0405 hrs (IST) on December 21. ISRO completed the satellite in a cool 26 months at a cost of $80 million. The Economic Times reported that Antrix/ISRO made a handsome $40 million profit from the same. The Ariane 5 placed the satellite in Geosynchronus Transfer Orbit or GTO after which ISRO controlled the satellite from its Master Control Facility or MCF-Hassan, stabilized the satellite with repeated Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) firing to place it in final orbit and deployed its appendages.
  8. In another rocketry related event at ISRO this week, ISRO tested the new indigenously developed cryogenic engine. The test was conducted at the Mahendragiri facility of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC). The engine will be used on the third stage of Geosynchronus Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV. The engine develops a thrust of 73kN in vaccum with a specific impulse of 454 seconds. The engine works on staged combustion cycle and runs an integrated turbopump at a speed of 42000rpm. This will allow GSLV to place a 2200 kg payload in Geosyncrhonus Transfer Orbit.

Banning online satellite imagery services to combat terrorism

This article originally appeared on my blog http://pradx.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.

PIL has been filed against providing free online satellite imagery in India. I really do not understand how this is going to help without beefing up security on the ground. A few points for your consideration:

1. How many such services will you ban? Google Earth is perhaps the most famous. Besides, these are embedded in several websites which can be used to get the information wanted. Besides that such services are provided by WikimapiaYahoo! and Microsoft. Have a great time blocking all these sites.

2. If you ban it in India, can’t they access it from any other country? As far as media reports go, terrorists weren’t trained in India, so I’m pretty sure they won’t access the internet from here. They can easily access the site from another country, take a print out and do what they came here to do, while people who use such services are major losers.

3. Google Earth has been used not only by researchers and scientists but also in class rooms and communities to fight several issues against the Government.

4. All publicly released satellite imagery generally tend to be 1-4 years old. Is that really useful? The maps for my place look totally different today than as seen on Google Maps/Earth.

5. If such services are so useful to terrorists, why hasn’t the Police taken steps to use them for their benefit. (I know this is not really a valid point for or against the ban, but merely a thought that came to me as I typed this)

Technology is always a double edged sword that can cut either way. These are most of the objections I can immediately think of for not banning services such as Google Earth. If you can think of others, please do leave them in the comments. Thanks