30 May 2015

One Mosquito coil equals 100 Cigarettes
Story
           Smoke emitted from one mosquito repellant coil is equivalent to those of 100 cigarettes, thus causing harm to a large number of people. Not many people know about it, but the damage done to your health, especially lungs by one mosquito coil is equivalent to the damage done by 100 cigarettes. This was according to a recent study conducted in Malaysia. 
Analysis:
               This is a fact that everyone needs to be aware of. As the picture shows, the story is from an article published in Times of India. The article talks about the impact of using mosquito coils on health, especially in India where it is widely used.
              The article is quoted by the director of Chest Research Foundation, Mr. Sandeep Salvi, who spoke at the conference 'Air Pollution and Our Health', which was organized by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) along with the Indian Council for Medical Research and the Indian Medical Association. He talks about a recent Malaysian study which insists that the damage done to lungs by one mosquito coil is equivalent to the damage done by 100 cigarettes. He further adds that while using mosquito coils, people are completely unaware of healthy risks of indoor air pollution like this.
            Burning mosquito coils indoors is a common way to control mosquitoes effectively in homes, and are widely used in countries of Asia, Africa, and South America. However, the smoke that is emitted by these mosquito coils may contain pollutants that can of be serious health concern. Studies that tested this smoke have found significant amounts of volatile organic compounds in it, including carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals). Burning one mosquito coil released the same amount of particulate matter as burning 75-137 cigarettes would emit. The amount of formaldehyde (an irritating carcinogen that effects many processes inside body) emission from one mosquito coil was as high as that emitted when 51 cigarettes are burnt. You can find the complete details of the research in the reference section.
             Therefore, it is quite evident that mosquito coil smoke poses both acute and chronic health risks, in the short and long term usage. So, one should avoid usage of these. Instead, to avoid and kill mosquitoes indoors, one should maintain hygienic atmosphere in and around home place and use natural and safe mosquito killers whenever necessary. Read the reference section for dealing with mosquitoes effectively.

14 Apr 2015

               Thomas Edison and his great inventions  
                            Thomas Edison

              How Many Inventions has Thomas Edison?

                 Thomas Edison, lived between 1847-1931, was an inventor and businessman born in Ohio and holds the patents of over 1, 000 products including but obviously not limited to the phonograph, motion picture camera, and carbon microphone. It is hard to pick just one of his  inventions as being his most important one. It is safe to say that the incandescent light bulb is his most famous invention. Even though most of the people know him for his inventions, there is so much more to talk about this great scientist. His dynamic nature puts him at the top of my list for the most forward thinking. Including his inventions, he also held revolutionary and controversial views on such topics such as life and the hereafter, politics, national policy and currency. He quoted in the New York Times as saying “Gold is a relic of Julius Caesar, and interest is an invention of Satan.” At times, we may think that he was on to something, and let’s remember that he passed 3 years after Black Tuesday, and the start of the Great Depression. Among all his successes  Edison holds 15 awards in life and after death. His laboratory was his home, and is now a historical destination in New Jersey. It is no doubt that Edison’s contributions’ revolutionized many industries and made possible for the modern world we know today.


Who Invented the First Steam Engine?

                              JAMES WATT AND THE INVENTION OF THE STEAM ENGINE  

        James Watt and the Discovery of Steam Engine

             Some historians believe that the first steam driven machine (steam engine) was conceived in ancient China according to the the collection of works contained in the Tiangong Kaiwu, a scientific and military journal maintained by China’s government at the time. Although recreations of the contraption were attempted, the practicality of the invention rendered useless for travel. There are also records of similar contraptions in Ancient Rome and Greece.
The first modern implementation of steam engine came about as a solution to the  coal miners. An entrepreneur and inventor Thomas Newcomen (1664-1729) originally designed a pump driven by the pressure of water evaporation. Around 1775, an inventor named James Watt (1736- 1819) set out to improve the steam pump by making it more energy efficient, and eventually adapted it to produce a rotary motion. This adaptation allowed the engine to be used for more than just pumping water. Many overlook the fact that the steam engine we know today might not have been reached to today. While trying to bring his invention mainstream, Watt faced increasing financial hardship. The success of his invention may not have been realized if it were not for the partnership of Matthew Boulton. Their partnership, and what they produced, was the spark of the industrial revolution.

How was Electricity Discovered by Benjamin Franklin

         Is it True That Electricity was Discovered by an Experiment Conducted by Benjamin Franklin Using a Kite and  a Bolt of Lightning?

 electricity by Benjamin Franklin

               Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was known for many things as an inventor. When we were children, we often heard the stories of great men Benjamin Franklin. One of those stories is that Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity when his kite was struck by lightning. Many scholars reject this story. They say the amount of electricity produced by a single bolt of lightning is enough to kill a man on his boots. Others say that Benjamin Franklin himself, never wrote of the experiment, and the only witness was Benjamin Franklin’s son. Further evidence used to debunk this myth is the fact that he had articles published in London by Peter Collinson, one year before the kite experiment. Although this might be a farfetched story, there was indeed a great many experiments to learn about electricity in London at the time. A lightning rod, not a kite, was used.
Among the many great accomplishments in Benjamin Franklin’s lifetime was the invention of bifocal glasses, mapping the Gulf Stream, and an advocate for anti-slavery coalitions. Arguably his most impressive contribution to humanity and science was his serving on a committee of five responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence, and signing the United States Constitution.

29 Mar 2015

  • IRNSS-1D, which will provide navigation, tracking and mapping service and have a mission life of 10 years, is the fourth in the constellation of seven satellites. Photo: V. Ganesan

    IRNSS-1D, which will provide navigation, tracking and mapping service and have a mission life of 10 years, is the fourth in the constellation of seven satellites. Photo: V. Ganesan 
  • While four satellites would be sufficient to start operations of the IRNSS system, the remaining three would make it more accurate and efficient. Photo shows the launch of IRNSS-1 onboard PSLV-C27 from Chennai, which is approx. 100 km from Sriharikota. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan.
      While four satellites would be sufficient to start operations of the IRNSS system, the remaining three would make it more accurate and efficient. Photo shows the launch of IRNSS-1 onboard PSLV-C27 from Chennai, which is approx. 100 km from Sriharikota. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan. 
  • A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO (right) along with P. Kunhikrishnan (left), Mission Director, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C27), addressing newspersons after the successful launch of the rocket carrying the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS-1D) from Sriharikota. Photo: V. Ganesan
               A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO (right) along with P. Kunhikrishnan (left), Mission Director, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C27), addressing newspersons after the successful launch of the rocket carrying the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS-1D) from Sriharikota. Photo: V. Ganesan

     With this launch, the country is poised to operationalise the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

      India on Saturday demonstrated its ability to establish an independent regional navigation satellite system, as ISRO’s PSLV C-27 successfully launched Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) 1-D satellite into the intended orbit.
“We will now be able to make use of our receivers to locate ourselves independently,” ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said. This is the first launch this year and the first under his chairmanship.
While the ambit of the U.S. GPS was global, the IRNSS was meant for regional coverage, he said, replying to a query. “The globe comes later, the country comes first.”
IRNSS 1-D is the fourth of the series of seven satellites, which would form ISRO’s IRNSS.
Busy launch season ahead for ISRO
The launch IRNSS 1-D, which was earlier scheduled for March 9, was postponed following an anomaly in the telemetry systems. While four of the seven satellites in the IRNSS will be in geosynchronous orbit, the other three would be positioned in geo-stationary orbit, some 36,000 km above the Earth.
The national space agency has lined up many launches before March next year. A PSLV to launch a commercial satellite from the UK, two navigation satellites, a GSAT series satellite and three satellites in IRNSS series are among the planned launches. A reusable launch vehicle would also be tested this year as a technology demonstrator. “The tests on the reusable launch vehicle would be complete and in three months, ISRO would be able to launch it,” ISRO chairman K.S. Kiran Kumar said.
ISRO has also installed a Multi-Object Tracking Radar at a cost of Rs. 245 crore for which the trials would be conducted soon. The radar is capable of tracking 10 objects in real time simultaneously. Replying to another query, Mr. Kumar said the Mars Orbiter has been sending data from the red planet but said ascertaining whether methane was present there would take some time as the data had to be studied thoroughly. The configuration for a satellite for the use of SAARC countries as mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was being finalised and would be launched in 18 months, the ISRO chairman said. “We are in the process of discussing with other countries to finalise the configuration of the SAARC satellite.”
Replying to a query, he said Cartosat satellites would be used to monitor illegal mining in the country. “The Indian Bureau of Mines has been given the task to draw the boundary lines for the mines,” V.K. Dadhwal, Director of National Remote Sensing Centre said.
Attempting to reduce the mass of the satellites, ISRO was looking at the possibility of having an ion propulsion system, K. Sivan Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Valiamala in Kerala, said. “We are planning to test the proposed technology in a communication satellite,” he said. As for the semi-cryogenic engine, which LPSC is working on, he said the engine was tested for 20 seconds and the time duration would be extended in future. 

Curtsey  with THE HINDU

17 Oct 2014

Kalam stresses need for carbon-free cities


A file picture of former President A P J Abdul Kalam at a function in Chandigarh. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar.

           Former President APJ Abdul Kalam on Tuesday stressed the need to have carbon-free cities across the globe for happy and healthy living of citizens.
Delivering the keynote address at the plenary session of the XI World Metropolis Congress that is currently underway in Hyderabad, Dr Kalam suggested that the delegates should deliberate on building carbon-neutral and fossil-free urban conglomerations.
“To have carbon-neutral cities is my dream. Whether smart cities or over-smart cities, the urban areas should be places for healthy living,” Dr Kalam said adding that “healthy living is possible only if we adopt methods of generating solar power and create non-carbonised environment.”
The growing migration to urban areas poses challenge in creation of clean environment, he said.
Recalling his recent visit to Chandigarh, the former President said the city was built by a Swiss architect and an expert urban planner and there are several points that can be learnt from it.
Carlo Ratti, Professor at MIT, Boston, gave a power point presentation on sensible city while Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau focused on initiatives taken up by his city’s municipality. 

Curtsey with: THE HINDU

ISRO notches another success with PSLV-C26


PSLV-C26 lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota early Thursday. Photo: V. Ganesan

20 years after first mission, the space agency recorded its 27th successful flight.

On October 15, 1994, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-D2) for the first time successfully placed an Indian Remote-sensing Satellite into orbit.
Twenty years later, on October 16, 2014, the PSLV-C26 lobbed the 1,425 kg Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1C) satellite into its precise orbit.
Thursday’s mission was ISRO’s twenty-seventh consecutively successful PSLV flight. ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said, “The PSLV has done it again. IRNNSS-1C is up in orbit. ”
After a flight of 20 minutes and 18 seconds, the satellite was injected into an elliptical orbit. The IRNSS-1C is the third among seven navigation satellites, with a wide range of applications from helping truck drivers to submarines, missiles and battle tanks locate their positions. 

Curtsey with: THE HINDU

26 Sep 2014

India makes a mark in Mars


  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists and engineers watch Prime Minister Narendra Modi on screens after the success of Mars Orbiter Mission, in Bangalore on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.
    Reuters Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists and engineers watch Prime Minister Narendra Modi on screens after the success of Mars Orbiter Mission, in Bangalore on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.
  • ISRO scientists celebrate the success of Mars Orbiter Mission at their Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network complex in Bangalore.
    AP ISRO scientists celebrate the success of Mars Orbiter Mission at their Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network complex in Bangalore.
  • A screen grab of Mr. Modi addressing the scientists after news of success of the Mission
    A screen grab of Mr. Modi addressing the scientists after news of success of the Mission
  • Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and other officials cheer as they celebrate the success of Mars Orbiter Mission at their Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network complex in Bangalore on, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014.
    AP Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and other officials cheer as they celebrate the success of Mars Orbiter Mission at their Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network complex in Bangalore on, Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2014.
  • Scene at the ISTRAC Mission Analysis Centre, Bangalore. Photo: Madhumati
    The Hindu Scene at the ISTRAC Mission Analysis Centre, Bangalore. Photo: Madhumati
ISRO's Mars orbiter becomes first spacecraft to enter Martian orbit in maiden attempt
From 'Congratulations ISRO' to 'Howdy Curiosity' here's how India's Mars Mission scored big on Twitter.
15.02: Nimisha (@nim2391); Bhakt Repeller (@BhaktRepeller); Sherin Johnson (@i_sherin) ask how is the Mars Mission going to impact common man's life.
Executing an interplanetary mission is no simple feat. Being able to do it provides the impetus for more investment in space research as well as could herald an uptick in foreign investment. Expansion of spacefaring capabilities means development of better launch systems to launch more sophisticated scientific payloads, as well as, in the long run, giving India a foot in the door when it comes to hardcore interplanetary exploration and colonization, far though in the future that may be.
14:59: Many Bollywood stars took to Twitter to congratulate ISRO on its historic feat. Read here
14:56: Question from Facebook follower Dharmateja Challa: Will the data will be made public ? It would be great if they do so for scientific community?
Depends on institutional plans for the data because each instrument on the payload has been designed and manufactured by different institutions around India, led by various scientists. If the corresponding institute has plans to release data, then sure.
14.50: Mr. Mallikarjuna Konduri (@elKondorPasa) asks: will ISRO use rest of fuel for gaining a stabler orbit and extend the mission period?
Mission period doesn't depend on orbit stability as far as extension is concerned.
13: 30: Facebook follower Gautam Reddy: Now that ISRO is competing on par with it's contemporaries, Is ISRO having any plans for a Space Station?
There are no known plans for a space station. That would be too ambitious considering the kind of resources such an installation requires.
11.57: Satheesh Sellam (@SatheeshSellam) asked us this question: If we have successful cryo GSLV vehicle, the complexity of taking the satellite out of earth gravity is considered less?
We've had one successful test of the cryogenic engine. It's too soon to say how future missions will pan out, although that one test was encouraging. Also, having such an engine doesn't make it easier in the general sense but gives us the ability to launch heavier - and therefore more sophisticated - payloads into orbit, especially the geostationary transfer orbit.
11.36: Vaibhav Pratap Singh (@NooseVP) had posted a question on Twitter to us asking the difference between ISRO's Mars orbiter and NASA's Maven. Here's the answer:
There are some overlaps in terms of MAVEN's and MOM's objectives. Both are equipped with instruments that will provide a clearer picture of the Martian atmosphere. The Curiosity rover's next phase of operations includes investigating the possible presence of life in Mars' history and this means finding signs of water by looking for minerals that could have formed only in the presence of water. MAVEN will assist in this by looking for isotopic signatures, which is something MOM will do as well. The reason both probes are there right now is because of a certain window that comes once in 26 months that reduces the distance between Earth and Mars, making it a good opportunity to launch probes in this window.
10.45: "The periapsis achieved was 427 km and the apoapsis was 78,500 km. The final values will be obtained after several hours," Mission Director, MOM, V. Kesava Raju says. Read here
10.15:
10.10: Watch: India scripts history with Mars Mission
10.06: India’s first rocket launch pad, the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station, Thumba, Kerala, was in a coconut plantation. A local church served as main office, the bishop’s house was converted into a workshop and a cattleshed the research lab! Surely, we’ve come a long way!
10.00: Mars Orbiter Mission: Timeline of events
9. 34: Home Minister Rajnath Singh wishes Team ISRO
9. 20: Now that it’s delivered a payload into orbit around a neighboring planet, the Indian Space Research Organization, ISRO, has convinced the world it can also plan and execute long-term missions and the associated logistical nightmares. Read In Depth aticle about the mission
8.47:
8.36: PM Modi concludes his speech with quote from Tagore.
8.35: This achievement is far greater than a cricket win: PM Modi
A screen grab of Mr. Modi addressing the scientists after news of success of the Mission
8.33: India is now the first country to succeed at a Mars Mission in the first attempt & cheapest cost: PM
8.29: Modern India must continue. Through your achievements, you have honoured our fore-fathers, and inspired our future generations: PM Modi
8. 28:
8.23: Our efforts have historically focussed on ultimate objective of nation-building: PM Modi
8.22: Through your achievements, you have honoured our fore-fathers, and inspired our future generations: PM Modi
8.13:
8: 12:
8.05: PM Modi felicitates the scientists. "Scientists have gone beyond the boundaries of humar enterprise."
7.59: Occultation over. Mars Mission successful, ISRO Chairman confirms.
7: 53:
7.48: The firing must have been completed by now and MOM must be turning towards Earth to resume communication.
7.46: The spacecraft is now out of range of radio signals. It has gone behind Mars, in what is called as occultation/eclipse.Occultation is loss of signal due to the orbiter being on the 'dark side' of Mars.
7.38: In about half hour, ISRO is expected to get the first confirmation from NASA's ground station in Canberra, Australia.
7.31: All engines of the Mars orbiter are going strong. Burn start confirmed. Scientific community celebrate the confirmation message.
7.17: Burn must have started. All engines must have started firing by now. Stand by for confirmation. The LAM and the eight thrusters will fire together for 24 minutes to perform the MOM’s most crucial manoeuvre called Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI) to lower India’s spacecraft into the Martian orbit, with a peri-apsis of 423 km and an apo-apsis of 80,000 km. The manoeuvre will end at 7.41 a.m.
ISRO Chairman Dr. Radhakrishnan and Director and chariman of Spacecraft Authorisation Board Kiran Kumar waiting for confirmation of the Burn.
7.16: Mars Orbiter is now in the shadow of Mars.
7.12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at ISRO to witness the historic event. ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Radhakrishnan welcomes the PM
7.11: Mars Orbiter start of forward rotation is confirmed: ISRO
7.08: The Liquid Engine Burn is set to begin in a few minutes now.
7.02: Here's all you need to know about the Mars Orbiter Mission
6.56: Forward rotation must have begun, ISRO says. It is required to align the direction of firing for effective braking. Confirmation will reach after 12.5 minutes.
6.50: ISRO Chairman, in an exlcusive interview to The Hindu, talks about the agency's Plan A and Plan B for MOI. Read here
6.43: The result of Mars Orbit Insertion will be available only at about 8:30 a.m.
6.35: The orbiter’s propulsion system, called the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM), will erupt into life at 7.17 a.m. after remaining dormant for 300 days during the spacecraft’s journey to the Red Planet.
6.31:
(Image courtesy: ISRO)
6.24: An exclusive interview with ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Radhakrishnan ahead of the MOI manoeuvre.
6.19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bangalore late Tuesday and is expected to stay in the ISTRAC complex till 9 a.m. and address Team ISRO.
6.15: Will India be able to lower its spacecraft into the Martian orbit in its debut attempt? The answer will be available around 8.15 a.m. today.

India keeps historic date with Mars


  • Scientists at Bangalore ISRO cheering India's historic achievement. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
    The Hindu Scientists at Bangalore ISRO cheering India's historic achievement. Photo: K. Murali Kumar 
     
  • Scene at the ISTRAC Mission Analysis Centre, Bangalore. Photo: Madhumathi D.S.
    The Hindu Scene at the ISTRAC Mission Analysis Centre, Bangalore. Photo: Madhumathi D.S.

Mangalyaan cost $74 million, making it the world's cheapest interplanetary mission

Everyone sat glued to their seats, anxious and tense at the Mission Operations Complex-2 (MOX-2), the nerve entre of India’s Mars mission on Wednesday morning. There was just one question on everybody’s mind: will it happen?
The answer came through Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan’s intercom. Mission Director V. Kesava Raju had given the thumbs up. The Chairman nodded calmly, went up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and spoke a few words. A jubilant Mr. Modi hugged him, raised a fist and patted him on the back.
The gesture made it official. At 7.59 a.m., India had accomplished a gigantic feat of putting a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in its first attempt.
Around 150 ISRO engineers at MOX-2 and the neighbouring Mission Analysis Centre (MOX-1), where the media waited, broke into applause. “MOM successfully enters Martian orbit,” ISRO flashed on its monitors.
Dr. Radhakrishnan later told The Hindu, “We have done our best. India is great.”
The tryst with the Red Planet came 10 months after the ISRO launched its first orbiter to Mars on November 5 last year. But the final critical moment was at 7.17 a.m., when the main Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and the eight small thrusters on the orbiter ignited simultaneously and enabled the crucial manoeuvre.
All the engines fired flawlessly for 24 minutes and reduced the spacecraft’s velocity by 1.09 km per second; this contained the spacecraft in an orbit around Mars.
Praise for feat
Mr. Modi commended the ISRO scientists on “their incredible” feat. “MOM has met Mars. India has successfully reached Mars. History has been created today. We have reached the unknown and achieved the impossible,” he exulted.
“I am living my dream,” said MOM Project Director S. Arunan. Mr. Kesavara Raju called it “a great achievement for the country.”
The former Soviet Union and the U.S, who began their Mars pursuits in the 1960s, as well as Japan and China, failed in their first attempt to put their spacecraft into Martian orbit. The US Mariner-3 failed in 1964 and the Japanese Nozomi did not make it in 1998. Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, with a Chinese payload, failed in 2011. 

Curtsey with: THE HINDU 

MOM gets clicking before work


In this photo downloaded off Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle @narendramodi, Isro chief K. Radhakrishnan and his team presents the first picture of Mars sent by the Mars Orbiter Mission.
In this photo downloaded off Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal Twitter handle @narendramodi, Isro chief K. Radhakrishnan and his team presents the first picture of Mars sent by the Mars Orbiter Mission.
 First images presented to Prime Minister
ISRO’s Mars orbiter has sent down first-day pictures that show the grainy orange Martian terrain. The space agency on Thursday unveiled two of the first five pictures taken by the Mars colour camera. Some more pictures are to be made public on Friday.
Within the first half-hour of going round Mars, the orbiter clicked five pictures each taken five minutes apart. They were received and processed till late night at the Indian Space Science Data Centre for planetary studies at Byalalu near here.
ISRO scientists presented the first images to Prime Minister on Thursday morning before putting them out — notably first on Twitter.
The first image shows a Martian surface with a black patch taken from a distance of 7,300 km. The second one, distance unmentioned, was also on Twitter by evening and has a part of the orange orb in the background of deep black space.
“1st image of Mars, from a height of 7300 km; with 376m spatial resolution. MT @MarsOrbiter The view is nice up here,” ISRO tweeted.
To this, Mr. Modi responded, “Yes, I agree @MarsOrbiter, the view is indeed nice up there! @isro.”
ISRO’s Scientific Secretary V. Koteswara Rao said over the next seven to 10 days, “we will plan [when] to switch on the [other four] payloads. We are checking the health of the orbiter.” They include the methane sensor for Mars, which is expected to say if Mars ever harboured life.
After the big move of September 24, “35 kg of fuel is left in the orbiter and it should be comfortable for six months,” which is the planned life of the Mars Orbiter Mission, he said.
Post-orbit, the Mars mission team has been collating data from the four ground stations and maintaining the elliptical path, which is 423 km from Mars at the nearest point and 76,000 km at the farther end of the path.
Every three days, the orbiter gets eclipsed and briefly goes without sunlight. The mission team must ensure unhindered operations at that time, an official said. 

Curtsey with: THE HINDU 

12 May 2014

How animals beat the heat

There's always thirst-quenching food around to tackle the summer heat. And, this squirrel seems to have found it!

  • Wild animals are wired to handle the heat
    PAUL NORONHA Wild animals are wired to handle the heat
  • There's always thirst-quenching food around to tackle the summer heat. And, this squirrel seems to have found it!

Summer is here. How do insects, birds and animals in the wild deal with soaring temperatures? Akila Kannadasan finds out that the trick lies in effortless adaptation

This summer, Urigam, Asokan, and Giri, the elephants of Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur, will be given special treatment to beat the heat. At 3 p.m. every day, they will be given shower baths to cool off. In the wild, the elephant knows how to deal with the heat. So does the little red ant. The hyena has his own plans. Every inhabitant of the forest has his / her way of handling the summer heat.
So, what exactly happens inside a forest during the summer? Everything, from the blades of grass by the brush, to the neighbourhood waterhole, wears a new look for the season. The inhabitants too, undergo changes in their lifestyle. Animals have been dealing with dry spells and droughts since time immemorial. But what’s fascinating is how they do so.
“Red ants burrow deep into the soil to escape the heat,” says naturalist ‘Poochi’ Venkat. “Most insects that come out for nectar, wind up early.” Insects however, prefer humid to dry weather. But they cannot afford to expose their wings too much in the heat. Venkat says that the wings have to be well-moisturised in order to be supple.
Insects alter their comings and goings as per the weather. When the day is hot, they “retire earlier than usual”. For instance, an insect that usually floats by lazily till late in the day, will probably come out early and go home by 8.30 a.m. to escape the heat. Some insects such as the beetle and leaf spider dare not come out when the sun is out, adds Venkat.
Animals too change their activity patterns during the summer, says biologist R. Arumugam. “They restrict their activity to early mornings and late evenings,” he says.
Birds try not to spend too much time in the heat, says P. Pramod of Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History. Since birds are warm-blooded, they react to heat much like humans. “During summer, migratory birds fly back to the Himalayas and Siberia. Resident birds will be relatively less active during the peak hours of the day,” he adds.
Wildlife conservation filmmaker Shekar Dattatri feels that “animals that have evolved in the tropics are well able to withstand summer temperatures”. Tigers, for instance, “often soak themselves in a river or waterhole for sometime and then lie in the shade during the hottest part of the day. They may also seek shelter in a cave or a thicket.” While tigers “prefer hunting at night, early morning or late evening,” Dattatri says that he has seen, on occasion, tigers “hunt during the middle of a hot summer day” when necessary. The animals might also hunt about water sources during the dry season, he adds. For, they know that herbivores will be drawn to water.
Dattatri says that “most animals get sufficient moisture from the food they eat and do not need copious quantities of water”. But elephants, however, “require nearly 100 litres of water each, a day”. “Generally, with the advent of the dry season, elephants move away from dry areas and into areas where there are reliable sources of food and water, such as streams, rivers, lakes and even reservoirs. Most forests have some perennial sources of water, which provide for animals.”
Elephants have a unique way of warding off heat. Dattatri explains that they “regulate their body temperature by fanning their large ears, which have a network of blood vessels. The flapping cools the blood passing through the ears and thus cools the body. In effect, the ears of elephants act like radiators. Elephants also love to bathe in water or splash themselves with water with their trunks, and this is another way they keep cool.”
The Forest Department is augmenting water resources in forest areas for the dry season. For 2013-2014, Department records suggest that the Tamil Nadu government has sanctioned Rs. 2.81 crore to install motors energised by solar power that will supply water in forest areas. Thirty such systems have already been installed. Waterholes are also being replenished during the summer. Dattatri believes that this practice “is a matter of some debate. Many leading ecologists feel that this is misplaced compassion and should not be done indiscriminately or as a matter of routine”.
Perhaps humans tend to think animals suffer the heat the same way they do? “People tend to compare themselves with animals. But the eco-system is different,” says a Forest Department official. “A deer can quench its thirst by eating a stem or a leaf. Another animal can do so by debarking a tree…” Animals know how to take care of themselves, he feels. They have been wired to do so.
***
* Summer plans at Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Vandalur
* Sprinkler facilities to be introduced at zebra, giraffe, and ostrich enclosures
* Wet gunny bags to be suspended around bird enclosures; these will be periodically moisturised
* Shower facilities to be provided for birds
* Watermelon, tender coconuts, and cucumber to be included in the diets of birds and animals

15 Indian bird species among globally endangered


The Great Indian Bustard is among the Indian bird species that are globally endangered. File Photo.
The Hindu The Great Indian Bustard is among the Indian bird species that are globally endangered. 

A study says Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Sociable Lapwing and Jerdon’s Courser are birds that are under threat due to destruction of their habitat of grasslands and scrub forests

Fifteen Indian bird species are part of a list of avians which are evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered. The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Yale University has come out with a study of 100 Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species worldwide.
The study says Bengal Florican, Lesser Florican, Great Indian Bustard, Sociable Lapwing and Jerdon’s Courser are birds that are under threat due to the destruction of their habitat of grasslands and scrub forests. The survival of Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Siberian Crane and White-bellied Heron greatly depend on the existence of their wetland habitat.
Forest Owlet’s survival is impossible if its habitat of deciduous forests in central India is destroyed, the study said. Officials of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), which works on the conservation of 12 of these threatened birds, said these species were threatened by human factors such as uncontrolled urbanisation, unsustainable industrialisation and rampant use of chemicals in agriculture.
“Comprehensive conservation action based on in-depth field research is required to save these species from going extinct. Today these habitats are facing some of the most severe human pressure which endangers the survival of the avian population found there,” BNHS director Asad Rahmani said.
Habitats such as grasslands and wetlands and the species inhabiting them have long been neglected in the conservation process in India, he added. Bittu Sahgal, editor, Sanctuary Asia, said birds such as the Bengal Florican, Great Indian Bustard, and Jerdon’s Courser are as vital to the health of grasslands as the tiger is to the forests in which it is found.
“India has displayed little regard for its grasslands these past decades and it is about time the nation stopped treating these life-saving ecosystems as wastelands”, Mr. Sahgal, also an environmental activist said.
What makes stainless steel non-magnetic whereas ordinary steel and iron are magnetic?
S.P.S. JAIN
Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh
We have to first understand how magnetic fields are generated around magnetic metals to answer this question. We know that within each atom, electrons spin on their axis that, in turn, causes magnetic field around them. Some electrons spin clockwise, some counter-clockwise. Generally they are paired so that the magnetic fields are cancelled. Iron which is a magnetic substance has three unpaired electrons. Each electron generates a magnetic field of its own.
If all the fields pull in the same direction then you have a magnet. In other words, the magnetic fields are aligned in a magnet. In the case of stainless steel, there are several types of them. In general they are made of iron (Fe), carbon (C), and about 10 per cent chromium (Cr). Some contain Nickel (Ni).
But other metals are added to obtain different properties. As stainless steel contains iron, a magnetic metal, one it would seem that it would be magnetic. However, when nickel (Ni) is added to stainless steel the result is a non-magnetic form of stainless steel, called austenitic stainless steel. At the atomic level, all the iron atoms act as mini magnets that are aligned in the same direction.
The net effect of this is that collectively the magnetic properties of all the iron atoms add up to produce the overall magnetisation of the material. This is known as ferromagnetism. But the addition of other elements to iron changes the properties. For instance, when chromium and nickel are added, the arrangement of atoms changes completely and this, in turn, affects the magnetic properties of iron. The nickel and chromium that are added to iron tend to cancel the magnetic fields and the net outcome is that stainless steel becomes a non-magnetic substance.

5 Apr 2014

Explore Mars this month

The Red Planet puts on its best show in more than six years in April.

Mars finder chart
Look for brilliant Mars in the southeastern sky after darkness falls. The Red Planet lies in Virgo, not far from the bright star Spica.
Astronomy: Roen Kelly
The Red Planet has returned to glory. Every two years, Mars puts on a show in the evening sky as it reaches a point in its orbit called opposition, when the planet lies opposite the Sun in our sky, which means it rises near sunset and remains visible all night. In 2014, this event occurs April 8, and it signals the best views of the Red Planet in more than six years.
On that night, look for a brilliant point of light in the southeastern sky just above the bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. That’s Mars, which shines at magnitude –1.5, brighter than it has since December 2007. The Red Planet even appears slightly brighter than the night sky’s brightest star, Sirius.
Mars is comparatively impressive this year compared to the past few oppositions because the orbits of Earth and Mars aren’t circular. At a distant opposition, the Red Planet can be more than 60 million miles (97 million kilometers) away. On April 14 of this year, though, it lies 57.4 million miles (92.3 million km) distant. As that point, the planet appears 15.2” across through a telescope, and that diameter doesn’t drop below 14.6” throughout the rest of April.
“Check out Mars with naked eyes in the early evening during April, but then transfer to a telescope for better views,” says Senior Editor Richard Talcott. “Because light from the planet passes through less of Earth’s atmosphere when it lies higher in the sky, the best observing should come in the hours around midnight.”
The most obvious Red Planet feature to check out through a telescope is the north polar cap. Because it’s currently early summer for Mars’ northern hemisphere, careful observers should be able to see the cap shrink during April.
Mars won’t appear this big and bright again until its next opposition May 22, 2016, so don’t wait any longer to check out the Red Planet.
Fast facts
  • Earth is 9.3 times as massive and nearly twice as wide as Mars.
  • From Mars, the Sun appears 44 percent as bright as it does from Earth.
  • Mars has two small moons, Phobos and Deimos, both of which Asaph Hall discovered in 1877.
  • Mars is the most explored planet besides Earth. There have been 18 successful missions to the Red Planet, including five that are still ongoing, and two more are currently en route.

ISRO gears up to launch second navigation satellite


IRNSS 1B Satellite positioned atop PSLV-C24’s
fourth stage at Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO
IRNSS 1B Satellite positioned atop PSLV-C24’s fourth stage at Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is looking forward to the liftoff of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C24 from Sriharikota at 5.14 p.m. today.
After more than 19 minutes of flight, if the PSLV-C24 puts India’s navigation satellite, called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B), into a perfect orbit, applause will echo across the Mission Control Centre. More so, because it will be the 25th consecutive successful launch of a PSLV, the ISRO’s trusty workhorse.
This launch vehicle is the PSLV’s XL version, armed with more powerful strap-on booster motors than in the standard PSLV, which will put the 1,432-kg IRNSS-1B into its orbit.
The IRNSS-1B is India’s second dedicated navigation satellite. The first, IRNSS-1A, was put into orbit on July 1 last year. All the seven satellites, which form the IRNSS, will be in orbit by 2016.
“The countdown is proceeding as per the timeline, without any issues,” said M.Y.S. Prasad, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, on Thursday.
The countdown, which will last 58 hours and a half, began at 6.44 a.m. on April 2. By Thursday afternoon, the PSLV-C24’s fourth stage was accurately filled with liquid propellants and the lower stage control systems with solid propellants.
“From 11 p.m. on Thursday till the early morning of Friday, we will fill the rocket’s second stage with more than 41 tonnes of liquid propellants. Then, other operations such as filling the launch vehicle with pressurised gas will be done,” said Dr. Prasad. During the countdown’s final phase, the rocket’s electronic systems will be tested.

Courtesy with  THE HINDU
 

PSLV puts navigation satellite in orbit


PSLV-24-IRNSS-1B successfully launched at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikotta on Friday. Photo: M. Karunakaran
 
The Hindu PSLV-24-IRNSS-1B successfully launched at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikotta on Friday. Photo: M. Karunakaran
India marched towards establishing its own navigation system on Friday when its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C24) put into precise orbit the country’s second navigation satellite, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B). The 1,432-kg IRNSS-1B will form part of a constellation of seven navigation satellites.
It was the 25th success in a row for the PSLV, after it majestically lifted off from the first launch pad at Sriharikota at 5.14 p.m. After 19 minutes of flight, IRNSS-1B was put into a perfect orbit.
K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said two more IRNSS satellites would be put into orbit before 2014-end and three more before mid-2015.
Mission Director P. Kunhikrishnan, said the mission accuracy was such that the satellite achieved a perigee of 283 km against the target of 284 km and an apogee of 20,630 km against the targeted 20,650 km.
“The satellite is doing extremely well in orbit,” said M. Nageswara Rao, Project Director, IRNSS. Its solar panels were deployed. Dr. Rao was confident that the satellite’s life would be longer than the targeted 10 years.
The IRNSS satellites will be useful for land, sea and air navigation. They have civil and defence applications

Courtesy with: THE HINDU
 

GSLV to soar into sky with crew capsule in June


ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan (centre) with S. Ramakrishnan, Director,
VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram (left), P. Kunhikrishnan, Mission Director, PSLV -
C24 (second from left), M. Nageswara Rao, Project Director, IRNSS (second
from right), and A.S. Kiran Kumar, Director, Space Application Centre,
Ahmedabad (right), after the successful launch of IRNSS-1B from Sriharikota
on Friday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan
 
              ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan (centre) with S. Ramakrishnan, Director, VSSC, Thiruvananthapuram (left), P. Kunhikrishnan, Mission Director, PSLV - C24 (second from left), M. Nageswara Rao, Project Director, IRNSS (second from right), and A.S. Kiran Kumar, Director, Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad (right), after the successful launch of IRNSS-1B from Sriharikota on Friday. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan
India’s huge Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV- Mark III) will soar into the sky with a crew capsule from Sriharikota in June, signalling that the country is getting ready to send its own astronauts into space. It will be an experimental mission and it will carry no astronauts. This crew capsule will return to the earth with parachutes.
It would be identical to the “final crew capsule in structural and thermo-structural parts,” said S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. “We will take it beyond the atmosphere, make it re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, decelerate it and make a soft touchdown in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman coast. We will make efforts to recover it.”
The VSSC Director was speaking to reporters here after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C24) put into orbit India’s second navigation satellite, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B).
Mr. Ramakrishnan said the Indian Space Research Organisation would evaluate the structural and thermal protection systems to withstand the re-entry load, and thermo-dynamic heating.
This crew capsule will not contain the life-support systems which will be required when actual astronauts fly in the crew capsule. “We will be measuring the environment inside the capsule which will give inputs on the validation of the astronauts’ life-support systems in terms of temperature, vibration and shock which will be experienced inside the crew capsule. This will help us in designing the life-support systems when we actually fly the astronauts into space.”
No astronauts would be aboard the crew capsule in the GSLV-MkIII mission, he stressed.
K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO Chairman, said the June mission would be a passive flight. Its massive cryogenic engine would not fire.
The GSLV-MkIII was getting assembled at Sriharikota, Dr. Radhakrishnan said. Its two strap-on motors had arrived at the spaceport. . The cryogenic stage is getting ready in the ISRO Propulsion Complex at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.
Dr. Radhakrishnan said the PSLV would put into orbit in June the French SPOT-7 satellite and four other satellites from abroad. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU
 

7 Jan 2014

GSAT-14 orbit raised for first time

India successfully launched rejuvenated indigenous cryogenic engine- fitted GSLV-D5 carrying communication satellite GSAT-14 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (ISRO) at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.
PTIIndia successfully launched rejuvenated indigenous cryogenic engine- fitted GSLV-D5 carrying communication satellite GSAT-14 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (ISRO) at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday.



































                     The first orbit raising operation has been completed on GSAT-14, the communications satellite launched from Sriharikota on Sunday evening, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
After its onboard apogee motor was fired for 3,134 seconds - almost an hour - on Monday, the communication satellite currently moves in a temporary elliptical orbit of 35,744 km x 8,966 km.
Over the coming days the satellite will be gradually pushed into a circular orbit. It will be finally parked at its planned slot above 74 degrees East longitude and tested in orbit before it is rendered functional, which normally takes about a month.
The orbit raising and monitoring activities are performed from the ISRO Master Control Facility in Hassan, about 180 km from Bangalore.
GSAT-14 carries 12 transponders for communication and broadcasting uses and is the first domestic satellite to be successfully placed in orbit by the GSLV-MkII launcher.
ISRO on Sunday demonstrated the much needed indigenously built cryogenic engine for the first time on the medium-lift rocket, GSLV-D5.

Courtesy with: THE HINDU 

GSAT-14 doing fine: ISRO

 

Two more orbit-raising manoeuvres will put the satellite in its final orbit

The GSAT-14 communication satellite, put into orbit on Sunday by the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D5), is in good health, and its systems are normal, satellite specialists of the Indian Space Research Organisation said on Monday.
The ISRO successfully executed the satellite’s first orbit-raising manoeuvre on Monday morning, giving commands to the satellite’s propulsion system called the Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM). Two more orbit-raising manoeuvres will put the satellite in its final, circular geo-stationary orbit, at a height of 36,000 km around the earth.
The GSLV-D5, which used an indigenous cryogenic engine, injected the GSAT-14 into a perfect geo-synchronous transfer orbit with a perigee of 179 km and an apogee of 35,944 km. Soon after, the ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan, took over the control and commanding of the satellite.
After the satellite went into the orbit, its solar panels spread out like an accordion. “On Sunday, immediately after the GSAT-14 went into the orbit, we activated the solar panels, pointing them to the sun. The satellite is getting its energy from the solar panel,” said M. Nageswara Rao, Project Director, GSAT-14.
On Monday, the ground controllers at Hassan gave commands to the LAM to fire to raise the satellite’s elliptical orbit and gradually make it circular. The LAM went into action, taking the satellite to an orbit with a perigee of 8,966 km. LAM used 435 kg of fuel (mono methyl hydrazine) in this firing. The 1,982-kg satellite carries 1,137 kg of fuel.
“Today’s burn lasted 53 minutes. We will fire the LAM on January 6 and on January 9. Then the satellite will start drifting towards its final orbit,” Mr. Nageswara Rao said.
Sensors switched on
All the systems of the satellite were working well. Sensors had been switched on.
The GSLV-D5 launch, using the indigenous cryogenic engine, had come under the spotlight because four out of seven earlier launches failed. Of these four, three had used the Russian engine.
The GSLV-D3 flight on April 15, 2010, in which the ISRO used its own engine for the first time, also failed. When the ISRO made the second attempt on August 19, 2013 with its own cryogenic stage in the GSLV-D5, the launch had to be cancelled 75 minutes before the lift-off because liquid fuel leaked from the second stage of the three- stage vehicle.
Courtesy with: THE HINDU

28 Nov 2013

Mars Orbiter Mission: Those five minutes are crucial


Mars orbiter spacecraft must be set off between 2.38 p.m. and 2.43 p.m. today

The Mars orbiter spacecraft has just five minutes for getting launched on Tuesday — or it slips into the next day.
It must be set off between 2.38 p.m. and 2.43 p.m.
And the mission has an overall deadline, until November 19, this year. The next best time is not for another 26 months.
“We are on the threshold of a complex mission. If there is a hold during automatic launch sequence there then we will not have it on that day. We can have a maximum of only five minutes. Each day, the launch time advances by 6-9 minutes. We hope that it will make it [on Tuesday],” K. Radhakrishnan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told The Hindu recently.
ISRO scientists, having missed the earlier date of October because a tracking ship reached its watch post near Fiji late, have their calendar laid out for each of the remaining days.
“There is just one opportunity in a day. For each lift-off time, we need to have a new steering programme ready, a new trajectory design, and all this has been done,” he said.
“In earlier missions we worried about only one trajectory and made only a minor change in the steering programme. This total trajectory design is for each lift-off time, which is one big challenge for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).”
The flight on the four-stage PSLV-C25 lasts 43 minutes, more than double the time taken for its routine launches which need about 20 minutes, with a long coasting for the last stage.
Mr. Radhakrishnan said now they were concentrating on the launch on Tuesday and then on December 1, when the spacecraft should be put in the trajectory to Mars. Post-lunch, it will be a series of post-midnight exercises for scientists tracking the spacecraft from ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC). On Thursday morning, ISTRAC in Bangalore will start increasing its elliptical orbit in phases by firing its motors six times.
Dr. Radhakrishnan said the first orbit raising exercise was crucial and would happen on Thursday at 1.15 a.m.
The remaining orbit expansions would all be done around 2 a.m. on November 8, 9, 11 and 16, until the spacecraft’s apogee (farthest point from Earth in its elliptical orbit) reaches 1.92 lakh km.
The sixth and last Earth-bound manoeuvre is slated for December 1 at 12.42 a.m.
The trickiest time will be in September 2014, when the spacecraft will be near Mars. The scientists have to slow down the spacecraft and bring it into an elliptical orbit going around Mars. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Mangalyaan: a steal at Re.4 per person


Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four. File Photo
The Hindu Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four. File Photo
Nine days ago India’s space mission termed Mangalyaan, the voyage towards the planet Mars, was launched. It was what one calls a “textbook” launch with zero error, and one that has made India say “Yes, we can”. And in 300 days, it will have covered 680 million kilometres to orbit the Red Planet on September 24, 2014. Once that happens, it will start analysing the surface of the planet for any methane, a gas which is believed to hint at the presence of any Martian biology or life forms.
It is a proud moment in the history of India, a nation that started its space programme just about 50 years ago, or to put it in another way, with the “Chutzpah” of a teenage nation. With the Mangalyaan experiment, some say that India has “arrived” as a member of technically advanced nations.
Yet some voices have been raised in the country about whether this is worth it, whether it is a meaningless bombast, and whether this money of Rs 460 crores spent on Mangalyan could not have been used to feed the starving millions across the country. India is a land of stark contrasts. Half the people here live on less than two dollars a day, of which many are estimated to live on even less than Rupees 30 a day.
To this, the criticism, the Space Commission Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan responded saying that every rupee spent here benefits people all across India. To put it in perspective, he said that Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four.
What has the “aam admi” got out of these four rupees; or even forty or four hundred, counting over the year? Plenty! Recall how Indian satellites hovering around us give us real time information on weather, information to fishermen and coastal farmers on the tides and fish flock, on the state of ships and other vessels near and far from the coast, carry radio and TV waves, and most of all help in saving lives of millions.
Thanks to help from our space programme, the loss of lives in the recent cyclone Phanini was limited to 44 and almost a million people were saved by prior evacuation. Earlier cyclones, when we did not have this facility of early warning killed tens of thousands. Yes, but why to Mars? Herein is where the idea of development becomes important. India is still thought of as a “developing nation”, once ridiculed as a “ship to mouth” economy.
How does development occur? When and how does a country become “developed”?
Development has multiple components: proper food, clothing and shelter for the people; adequate education and culture; good health; good environment; equal opportunity for all; ability to defend from enemies; economic stability and growth; and above all, good governance, all leading to a feeling of justifiable national pride. If you look at any one of these above components, technology plays a vital role in it. Technology comes out of logical, scientific and rational thought and its application. The greatest thing about technology is that it is scalable to millions, it becomes cheap and affordable once it is spread, demanded and used; it can thus offer convenience and progress for the entire nation. Thanks to technology, we have now moved from “ship to mouth” to a “silo to ship” economy, and we rid ourselves of smallpox and polio, and are vaccinating all children against some common childhood diseases. It is here that Mangalyan is relevant. The 460 crores expenditure has several useful effects. We are using the latest technology, indeed creating new ones, and at a frugal cost. Mars missions by European or American countries would be at least thrice costlier. And the design, building, testing and setting up have all been done by Indian engineers. Only some vital components are imported. It has thus led us to be self-sufficient and advanced our capabilities. The technological prowess to aim for Mars means that we can apply it, and even better it for terrestrial needs at home. It also brings us business (recall that we pack the payloads of other countries in our satellites). It has captured the imagination of youngsters (over 2 lakh “likes” on Facebook by 18-21 year-olds). Mangalyan thus is a tool to attract youth and advance science.
It is therefore not an expense but an investment for the future. Today it is Mars, tomorrow even greater challenges. Should India not be ready? Mars is thus a metaphor.
Should these 460 crores not have been spent on feeding the poor? Look at the larger picture. The budget of India for the year 2013-14 is Rs 16,65,297 crores; this amounts to an individual amount of about Rs 14,500 per person. We have budgeted Rs 27,049 crores for agriculture (Rs 235 per Indian), plus Rs 33,000 crores on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA, to help the rural poor, which is another Rs 280 per person.
Money is thus earmarked and distributed to help the rural poor (Mangalyan has not taken away even a rupee out of these allocations). Despite these efforts, there are large holes in the programme, thanks to inefficient governance.
If we can tighten this up, complaint about feeding the poor will be far less or can even vanish. Here too, technology helps through efficiency, cutting out the middlemen and so forth. Compared to these, Rs 460 crores on Mangalyan, or Rs 4 per Indian (about an onion or two) is not just a grand bargain but a steal!
dbala@lvpei.org

Courtesy with: THE HINDU 

Mars mission’s D-day in three days


Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and engineers monitor the movements of the Mars orbiter at Spacecraft Control Centre in Bangalore on Wednesday.
AP Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and engineers monitor the movements of the Mars orbiter at Spacecraft Control Centre in Bangalore on Wednesday.

ISRO readies to thrust spacecraft out of Earth orbit on December 1

The first Indian Mars mission began its last orbit around the Earth on Wednesday morning, even as its controllers prepared for the big night three days away.
On the night of November 30-December 1, the spacecraft will be finally thrust away from the Earth, and all the way towards the Red Planet, after gathering a total escape speed of around 11.4 kms a second.
Indian Space Research Organisation’s Scientific Secretary V. Koteswara Rao told a pre-event briefing at the control centre at the Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) on Wednesday, “We are planning for the Mars spacecraft to depart the Earth in the early hours of December 1.”

‘Second big challenge’

Dozens of controllers at the Mission Operations Complex at ISTRAC were getting set for what the space agency’s chairman, K. Radhakrishnan, earlier termed ‘the second big challenge in the Mars mission’: the day when they must precisely increase the spacecraft’s velocity and slingshot it exactly towards Mars.
Saturday’s trans-Mars insertion (TMI) is set for 12.49 am. The spacecraft has been orbiting the Earth once in almost four days or 91.3 hours, since November 16.
About the TMI, Mr. Rao said, “On that day we must burn the liquid engine for roughly 23 minutes, which will impart to it an incremental velocity of 648 metres per second. Then begins a journey of 680 million km over 300 days.”
Once it nears Mars, we will have another major operation in September 2014 to make it orbit the planet, he said.
In six orbit-raising operations from November 7 to November 16, the spacecraft has gradually been given its present velocity of 873 metres a second and it reached an apogee (farthest point) of 1.92 lakh km.
Once it moves beyond 2 lakh km, ISTRAC’s Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu would come into the picture with its two large antennas which can track huge interplanetary missions.
The spacecraft carrying five instruments to study Mars was launched on November 5 from Sriharikota. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU