MUMBAI: The first Indian astronaut to fly into space, Rakesh Sharma, on Friday admitted that after his landmark 'Saare Jahan Se Achcha Hindustan Hamara' reply to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, he immediately realized that he had tripped up.
Sharma was replying to a student's question at the IIT-B Techfest on whether his response to her question 'How does India look from the space?' was deliberate or impromptu. The astronaut promptly said, "Why do you think it was not impromptu or original? "When answering to Mrs Gandhi's question, I must admit that I was having a great time in space. Fortunately, I couldn't see her and could only hear the audio channel. Perhaps that emboldened me to give, in my opinion, a rather smart answer to her question. Which I regretted immediately, when I heard her giggle and I said Oh my God! I have tripped up. You can't talk like that to a prime minister. But I do believe that India is Saare Jahan Se Achcha, not only visually but for what it stands for and our journey despite so much conflict and history. I think we still have our head above the water."
"When I was in school, it was our de facto number two national anthem. We sang it all the time. If you follow the words, I believe it describes the idea that is India accurately." said Sharma, who was one of the speakers at IIT-B's Techfest.
On whether China's launch of manned space mission is a setback for India, he said, "It is not a setback but a question of priorities. China had its priority clear. Isro announced a manned space programme, but we have not seen much progress. In India, what is lacking is the vision."
While speaking on 'Should India invest in manned space programme', Sharma slammed the government for not having a vision. "We need a different kind of fire, a vision, and I am sorry to say that it is lacking at the top echelons. Isro needs to send manned space programmes as robots cannot explore. It needs to be done before all resources are utilized. We need plans for international collaboration than competition," he said.
The mission to Mars would take place as scheduled in October, director of ISRO’s Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory J.L. Goswami said here on Friday.
The work on the project was proceeding smoothly and the equipment for five experiments to be conducted during the mission should be ready by March for integration into the satellite, he told reporters on the sidelines of a panel discussion on payloads for the mission.
Dr. Goswami indicated that the mission would be launched with the help of ISRO’s workhorse PSLV –XL.
According to current plans, the launch is scheduled for around October 22. The satellite will initially orbit around the Earth for about a month to ensure that all the systems are functioning properly. Around November 26, it will exit the Earth’s orbit and embark on a journey to Mars, which is expected to last around 300 days.
Among the payloads is equipment to discover the presence of hydrogen or methane in the red planet’s atmosphere.
A major aim of the project is to try and take forward an international effort to solve several riddles that continue to confound scientists about Mars’ past. Previous studies had shown the presence of water on the planet some time in the past.
Mars mission gets October, 2013 launch date deadline as India reaches out to the stars
India's space mission to Mars, expected to be launched in October, will look for signature of life and the reasons for loss of atmosphere on the red planet, a top scientist said here.
Work on the Mars Orbiter Mission, announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his Independence Day address last year, is going on full steam and equipment of the five experiments planned during the mission are expected to be delivered to ISRO in March.
"We should get the five payloads by March and we plan to start integrating them in the satellite from April," Jitendra Nath Goswami, director of the Physical Research Laboratory and closely involved with the Mars mission, said.
ISRO's trusted warhorse rocket PSLV-XL is expected to launch the mission some time in October from the spaceport Sriharikota which will first keep orbiting the earth, achieving the necessary velocity to escape the earth's gravitational pull.
As per existing plans, the satellite is expected to exit the Earth's orbit on November 26 and embark on the journey to Mars which is expected to last for around 300 days.
The scientists have drawn up plans to insert the satellite in an orbit around Mars on September 22 next year.
Once in the Martian orbit, the satellite will start taking pictures of the red planet with an onboard colour camera and infra-red spectrometer, while the Lyman-alpha photometer would measure atomic hydrogen in the Martian atmosphere.
"The previous missions to Mars have shown that there was water on the planet. We would want to know how and why the planet lost water and carbon dioxide," Goswami told reporters on the sidelines of the 100th Indian Science Congress here. "Nobody has done research why water was lost. We are trying to do things which were not precisely or exactly done," Goswami said.
Updates on ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission: five instruments to be delivered in March
Several news articles appeared in Indian media today about the upcoming launch of ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission. It's the first time I've seen such detailed information about the spacecraft. There were two distinct articles appearing across numerous media outlets, so it must be a wire story or perhaps even an ISRO press release; I'm not sure how these things work in India. There isn't a release posted on ISRO's website, as far as I can find. Here's a summary of those, one printed in the Deccan Chronicle, Economic Times, Indian Express, and elsewhere, and the other posted at Parda Phash, IBN live, and other places.
The information comes out during the 100th Indian Science Congress, taking place this week in Kolkata.
- Spacecraft facts:
- Its main engine generates 440 Newtons of thrust.
- Launch mass: 1350 kg.
- It bears a single solar panel, 1.4 by 1.8 meters, producing 750W at Mars. [Note: This doesn't jibe with the single image that I have managed to find of the orbiter, posted below; that one appears to have a three-section panel, with each section possibly 1.4 by 1.8 meters. I can't explain the discrepancy.]
- For attitude control it has four reaction wheels, eight 22-Newton thrusters.
- Those are mostly pretty similar to Chandrayaan-1, except for the size of the solar panel. Chandrayaan-1 had a single 2.15-by-1.8-meter panel that generated 750W at the Moon. My guess is that the diagram below is correct and that the Mars spacecraft has a single solar array consisting of three panels 1.4 by 1.8 meters each, which would, together, manage to produce similar power at Mars that the single, larger panel did at the Moon.
- Five instruments have been selected, including:
- A color camera
- A Thermal Infrared Imaging System
- A Lyman-alpha photometer
- An Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer
- A Methane Sensor
- The engineering model is complete, and the flight model should be completed in March.
- ISRO expects instruments to be delivered in March for integration beginning in April.
- Launch to Earth orbit will take place "some time in October."
- The spacecraft will depart Earth orbit on November 26 and arrive at Mars on September 22, 2014.
The mission does not yet have a formal name ("Mangalyaan" is not it -- as far as I can tell, that name was made up by newspapers needing a name and following the "Chandrayaan" convention). For lack of a better one, though, I'll not change it in my previous posts until we find out what the formal name is going to be.
Jitendra Nath Goswami, director of ISRO's Physical Research Laboratory, is quoted as saying: "We are trying hard and by mid-October we are expecting to launch the Mars mission." And: "The mission has a very specific science objective as we want to study the atmosphere of Mars. This mission will explore things which have not been done previously by other countries." And: "The previous missions to Mars have shown that there was water on the planet. We would want to know how and why the planet lost water and carbon dioxide."
Although these goals sound similar to those of NASA's MAVEN, the instrument package is more general than MAVEN's -- color imaging, nighttime thermal infrared, and so on. Only the Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer seems to overlap with MAVEN. In any case, it's my impression that science is only a secondary goal for this mission. The primary goals are engineering ones: simply to succeed at launching a spacecraft on an Earth-to-Mars transfer orbit, successfully navigate it to Mars, successfully enter orbit at Mars, and operate it there at all would be major achievements for India, regardless of any scientific data return.