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Nalanda, which gave ‘ZERO’ to the world

Established in the 5th century by King Kumargupta of the Gupta empire, Nalanda became a beacon of intellectual excellence and its teachings formed the bedrock of modern-day science and technology, writes Ranjit Kumar

The scholars were overwhelmed with emotion as they witnessed the inauguration on June 19 by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, of the newly established campus complex at the renowned ancient University of Nalanda.


This significant occasion marked the revival of an ancient institution, adding a sense of historical significance to the event. The event served as a poignant reminder of the university’s prestigious past and the promising future that lay ahead.


History of Nalanda University

The ancient university of Nalanda, located in present-day Bihar, was not only the oldest but also the largest residential university in the world.


With a student population of over 10,000 and a teaching faculty of 2000, Nalanda was a thriving centre for various fields of study including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, religion, philosophy, and science. Its significance in the realm of knowledge cannot be overstated.


Established in the fifth century by King Kumargupta of the Gupta empire, Nalanda became a beacon of intellectual excellence and its teachings formed the bedrock of modern-day science and technology.


The university’s rich legacy is still evident today and it has been recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site.


Tragically, Nalanda met its untimely demise in the 12th century when it was ravaged and set ablaze by the Turko-Afghan invader Bakhtiyar Khilji.


The destruction was catastrophic, with the university campus, along with its vast collection of over 9 million books and numerous buildings, burning for a period of six months.


Testament of ancient Indian education system

Prime Minister Narendra Modi aptly stated in his inaugural speech, while buildings can be destroyed, knowledge cannot. The knowledge that emanated from Nalanda has had a profound impact on the development of mankind.

It was at Nalanda that the concept of ‘Zero’ was developed under the guidance of the renowned astronomer Aryabhata, who played a pivotal role in steering the university to international acclaim.

The fame of Nalanda attracted scholars and students from all corners of the world, including the renowned Chinese traveller Huen Tsang, who spent two years at the university during his visit to India from 630 to 643 AD.

The story of Nalanda serves as a testament to the achievements of the ancient Indian education system. Its ruins stand as a reminder of the intellectual prowess and the pursuit of knowledge that characterized the university.

As a UNESCO world heritage site, Nalanda should inspire Indian leadership to transform the country into a global hub for knowledge and education.

The legacy of Nalanda continues to resonate, and its teachings have laid the foundation for the advancements in various fields that we witness in the present day.

The destruction of Nalanda may have been a tragedy, but its enduring impact on the world of knowledge is a testament to the indomitable spirit of human intellect.

Revival of Nalanda University

Nalanda’s rich history is primarily known through the detailed accounts provided by Huen Tsang, who vividly described the life and times of the university.

It is fascinating to note that Nalanda University was established more than 500 years prior to the founding of the University of Oxford in 1096 AD in England. The sheer magnitude of this time gap highlights the immense significance and antiquity of Nalanda as an educational institution.

While it would be an arduous task to replicate the teaching and research traditions, as well as the exceptional facilities that once thrived at Nalanda, the Government of India, in collaboration with 17 member countries of the East Asia organization, has made a commendable effort to revive the unique traditions established by the university’s management.

The revived University of Nalanda, situated near the ruins of the original university complex, aspires to foster an international atmosphere.

 The inspiration to revive this educational and learning complex was initiated by the esteemed former President, Dr. Abdul Kalam.

The first concrete step towards reviving the university was taken during the 2007 East Asia summit held in the Philippines, where a proposal to restart the university with international collaboration was endorsed.

Although teaching initially commenced with a small faculty in a rented complex in 2014, the University has now unveiled a sprawling complex spanning 455 acres, capable of accommodating 7500 students and teachers.

The architects have meticulously endeavoured to recreate the architectural and geographical essence that the ancient University would have provided.


Symbol of India’ academic heritage

During the inauguration of this grand complex, Prime Minister Modi, in the presence of Dr. S. Jayshankar, the Minister of External Affairs, and ambassadors from 17 countries, expressed his belief that the rebuilding of the ancient university would herald a golden era for India.

The Prime Minister lauded the rich history of Nalanda, emphasizing its significance as a symbol of India’s academic heritage and vibrant cultural exchange. He further emphasized that Nalanda’s revival is not merely a renaissance of India’s cultural past, but also a testament to the shared heritage of numerous countries connected to this esteemed place.

The Prime Minister’s words underscore the profound impact and global relevance of Nalanda University, making it a beacon of knowledge and cultural exchange for the world to admire.

Dr Jayshankar emphasized the significance of the revival of the global bridge of learning in his address. He expressed his belief that this bridge has the potential to foster relationships that surpass those of the past.

This momentous occasion filled India with pride and a sense of history. Through this university, the world will gain insight into India’s rich knowledge traditions and its invaluable contributions to various fields such as mathematics, astronomy, science and technology, religion, and philosophy.


Conclusion

India was not only home to Nalanda University but also boasts numerous other ancient universities that have stood the test of time for thousands of years.

One such example is the Takshashila University, established in 700 BCE, which is considered the oldest Indian university and is located in present-day Pakistan.

Scholars from various regions flocked to Takshashila to study subjects like mathematics, law, medicine, and philosophy.

Another notable rival of Nalanda was the Vikramshila University, which attracted students from India, Tibet, China, and other regions. Additionally, lesser-known universities like Pushpagiri University, Valabhi University, Odantapuri University, and Jagaddala Mahavihara also flourished during this era.


The new complex of Nalanda University currently houses six schools, each specializing in different fields of study. These schools include Historical Studies, Ecology and Environmental Studies, Buddhist Studies, Philosophy and Comparative Religion, Languages and Literature, Humanities, and Management Studies and International Relations.


It is worth mentioning that the university has garnered international participation, with 17 other nations, including Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, actively involved in its programs and initiatives.
 
(The writer is a senior journalist and strategic affairs analyst; views expressed here are his own) – India News Network

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ISRO astronauts set for NASA training in Houston

NASA will have a hand in training two Indian astronauts, one of whom will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) late this year. …reports Asian Lite News

Marking a significant milestone in the India-US space partnership and space exploration, the two countries concluded the Strategic Framework for Human Spaceflight Cooperation to deepen interoperability in space and are working toward commencing advanced training for ISRO astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center, the first-ever joint effort between NASA and ISRO astronauts at the International Space Station.

A fact sheet issued by the US and India on Monday after the iCET Dialogue between US National Security Adviser (NSA) Jake Sullivan and National Security Advisor Ajit read, “Celebrating the conclusion of a Strategic Framework for Human Spaceflight Cooperation to deepen interoperability in space and work toward commencing advanced training for ISRO astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center.”

NASA will have a hand in training two Indian astronauts, one of whom will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) late this year. ISRO chairman S Somanath had earlier said that ISRO will likely select four astronauts for training.

Notably, India’s planned space station is called the Bharatiya Antariksha Station. It will be built by India and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The station is expected to be completed by 2035. NASA plans to decommission the ISS by 2031.

The Indian space station will be smaller than the International Space Station (ISS). It will have a mass of 20 tonnes (ISS – 450 tonnes and Chinese Tiangong Space Station – 100 tonnes) and will be used for microgravity experiments. It will orbit Earth at an altitude of around 400km.

Meanwhile, the fact sheet issued by the US and India after the iCET Dialogue said that the two sides are also exploring opportunities to participate in the Lunar Gateway Programme.

“Exploring opportunities for India’s participation in the Lunar Gateway Program, as well as joint avenues for collaboration in other space technologies,” read the fact sheet.

The Lunar Gateway represents a significant leap in human space exploration, offering a versatile platform for lunar surface missions, scientific research, and preparation for future deep-space endeavours spearheaded by US.

Artemis intends to establish a long-term base on the Moon (Artemis base), and the Lunar Gateway will serve as a multi-purpose outpost that orbits the Moon. The Gateway is a multinational project involving four of the International Space Station partner agencies: NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).

The Gateway Station is similar to the International Space Station currently in low Earth orbit, but the Gateway will orbit the Moon. Incidentally, the Gateway will be the first space station ever to exist outside of low Earth orbit or LEO.

The fact sheet also noted that the space agencies of the two countries are preparing for the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, a jointly developed satellite that will map the entirety of the Earth’s surface twice every 12 days as part of efforts to combat climate change and other global challenges together.

NISAR will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequencies. The mission will survey all of Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces every 12 days. It has a three-year duration. The main aim of the NISAR satellite is to observe the most complex natural processes of the planet, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, as well as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.

The iCET talks also saw the launch of a new partnership between the US Space Force and the Indian startups — 114ai and 3rdiTech — including on advancing space situational awareness, data fusion technologies, and infra-red sensor semiconductor manufacturing.

“Launching a new partnership between the US Space Force and the Indian startups, 114ai and 3rdiTech, including on advancing space situational awareness, data fusion technologies, and infra-red sensor semiconductor manufacturing,” read the fact sheet.

The two sides welcomed India’s observation of the US Space Command’s Global Sentinel Exercise at Vandenburg Space Force Base in February and its return as a participant in the exercise in 2025. “Welcoming India’s observation of the U.S. Space Command’s Global Sentinel Exercise at Vandenburg Space Force Base in February and its return as a participant in the exercise in 2025.”

The key points that were highlighted in the fact sheet were Significant Funding Commitments, NASA-ISRO Collaboration, Defence Space Technology, Telecommunications Advances, Semiconductor Partnership, and Quantum and AI Cooperation amongst many.

“Strengthening defence space cooperation through the second Advanced Domains Defense Dialogue held at the Pentagon in May 2024, which featured an India-US space table-top exercise and included bilateral expert exchanges on emerging domains including artificial intelligence,” the fact sheet added. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Modi, Sullivan Discuss Deepening India-US Strategic Partnership

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NASA awards over $10mn to 7 firms for Mars mission

Once completed, NASA aims to assess all studies to consider alterations or enhancements to the Mars Sample Return architecture….reports Asian Lite News

NASA on Saturday announced a grant of about $1.5 million each to seven companies for studies exploring more affordable and faster methods for the Mars sample return mission.

The companies, which include Lockheed Martin, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Quantum Space, and Northrop Grumman, will conduct ten three-month-long studies.

In addition, NASA centres, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, and Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are also producing studies.

Once completed, NASA aims to assess all studies to consider alterations or enhancements to the Mars Sample Return architecture.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said that the Mars sample return mission “will be one of the most complex” that the US space agency has undertaken. He said, “It is critical to carry it out more quickly, with less risk, and at a lower cost.”

“I’m excited to see the vision that these companies, centres, and partners present as we look for fresh, exciting, and innovative ideas to uncover great cosmic secrets from the Red Planet,” Nelson said.

NASA has been engaging in several missions over the last century to determine the early history of Mars and to understand the formation and evolution of habitable worlds, including Earth.

NASA’s Mars Sample Return is a strategic partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency) that has been a long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades.

Apollo 8 astronaut Anders dies

Former US astronaut William Anders, who was part of the Apollo 8 mission which saw the first crew orbit the moon in 1968, has died in a plane crash north-west of Seattle, US media reported on Friday citing his son. Anders was 90 years old.

He was flying alone in a small aircraft when it went down off the coast of Washington state, according to the reports. Authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the crash.

During the Apollo 8 mission, Anders took the famous Earthrise photo which depicts the moon with the Earth “rising” in space in the background. The image has been credited with changing human perception of the planet and became a symbol for Earth’s fragility. Some even consider it to be the origin of today’s environmental movements.

“Anders offered to humanity among the deepest of gifts an astronaut can give,” NASA chief Bill Nelson wrote on X.

“He traveled to the threshold of the Moon and helped all of us see something else: ourselves. He embodied the lessons and the purpose of exploration. We will miss him.”

Following his NASA career, Anders served as US presidential adviser and US ambassador. He also worked for different nuclear energy and aviation companies, among others.

Most recently, Anders lived on the San Juan Islands off Washington state on the US north-west coast. He was married and had six children.

ALSO READ: David Cameron falls victim to hoax video call

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Sunita Williams Dances to ISS on Starliner’s Maiden Crew Flight

The spacecraft was launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida…reports Asian Lite News

Indian-origin NASA astronaut Sunita Williams danced her way to the International Space Station (ISS) in the early hours on Friday, as the Boeing Starliner spacecraft successfully docked to the orbital laboratory.

Along with NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, she will spend about a week at the ISS.

“Docking confirmed! @BoeingSpace’s Starliner docked to the forward-facing port of the @Space_Station’s Harmony module. NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams will spend about a week. That feeling when you’re back on the station!” NASA said in a post on X.

Later, the seven Expedition 71 crew members gathered with the two crew flight test members for a team portrait aboard the space station.

The spacecraft was launched on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Programme, the mission is the first crewed flight for the Starliner spacecraft.

The Starliner mission aims to carry astronauts and cargo for future NASA missions to low Earth orbit, and beyond.

The crew flight test aims to certify the spacecraft for routine space travel to and from the space station.

ALSO READ-Sunita Williams’s inspirational space journey captivates schoolchildren at SIBF 2023

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China’s lunar probe lands on far side of Moon

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced this historic milestone, marking the first-ever collection of samples from this mysterious lunar region…reports Asian Lite News

China’s Chang’e-6 lunar probe has achieved a historic feat by landing on the far side of the Moon and embarking on a groundbreaking mission to collect samples from this rarely explored terrain, Chinese State media reported on Sunday.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced this milestone, marking the first time in human history that samples will be gathered from this enigmatic region of the lunar surface.

With the support of the Queqiao-2 relay satellite, the Chang’e-6 lander-ascender combination successfully touched down at the designated landing site within the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin. This region, nestled on the far side of the Moon, presents a unique and challenging landscape for scientific exploration, as reported by Xinhua.

Comprising an orbiter, a returner, a lander, and an ascender, Chang’e-6 has undergone a meticulously planned journey since its launch on May 3 of this year. From the stages of Earth-Moon transfer to near-Moon braking, lunar orbiting, and finally, the descent to the lunar surface, each step has been executed with precision by the CNSA.

The chosen landing site, the Apollo Basin, holds immense scientific potential for exploration. Huang Hao, a space expert from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), explained that the decision to target the Apollo Basin was influenced by its scientific significance and favourable landing conditions.

Despite the rugged terrain characteristic of the far side of the Moon, the relatively flat surface of the Apollo Basin offers an ideal location for landing and subsequent sampling operations.

Following the successful landing, Chang’e-6 is poised to commence its sampling mission, scheduled to be completed within two days. Employing two distinct methods, the probe will collect samples both from the subsurface using a drill and from the lunar surface using a robotic arm.

Jin Shengyi, another esteemed space expert from the CASC, revealed the meticulous preparations undertaken by the Chang’e-6 development team to ensure the success of the sampling process.

A simulation lab was established in advance, replicating the lunar environment and conditions surrounding the landing site. Through this simulation, sampling strategies and equipment control procedures were meticulously crafted and verified, ensuring the accuracy and efficiency of the mission.

Despite the challenges posed by the Moon’s obstruction, which results in a shorter Earth-Moon communication window on the far side, the Chang’e-6 mission is poised to optimise efficiency through autonomous operations.

Jin elaborated on the intelligent capabilities incorporated into Chang’e-6, allowing the probe to execute instructions and make judgments autonomously, thus reducing the need for constant Earth-based intervention.

In a significant advancement, the Chang’e-6 mission aims to streamline operations by significantly reducing the number of instructions sent from ground control.

With an anticipated reduction from approximately 1,000 to 400 instructions throughout the sampling process, Chang’e-6 epitomises the advancements in autonomous space exploration, Xinhua reported. (ANI)

ALSO READ: UAE, China hail ‘deepening’ ties

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Powerful Solar Storm Could Disrupt Earth’s Communication, Power Grids

Alongside the breathtaking auroras, concerns loom over potential disruptions to Earth’s communications networks, tonight and into the weekend

A remarkable celestial event is underway as a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections dazzle the skies, potentially extending the spectacle as far south as Alabama and Northern California. However, alongside the breathtaking auroras, concerns loom over potential disruptions to Earth’s communications networks, tonight and into the weekend, CNN reported.

The rarity of this solar storm harks back to October 2003, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, marking a significant celestial occurrence not witnessed in many years.

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, voiced apprehension regarding the implications of the solar storm on our technologically reliant society. Drawing parallels to the Carrington Event of 1859, Nye emphasised the vulnerability posed by our heavy dependence on electricity and electronics, underscoring the potential ramifications should disruptions occur, as reported by CNN.

Despite existing mitigation measures, Nye cautioned that not all infrastructure, particularly transformers, may be adequately equipped to withstand the onslaught of such a solar event, leaving room for unforeseen complications.

Amidst an otherwise tranquil week, most regions of the Lower 48 States enjoy clear skies, offering prime viewing opportunities for the northern lights. However, some areas are less fortunate, with cloud cover obstructing the spectacle. From the Northeast to the Midwest, and parts of Texas and Louisiana, patches of clouds threaten to obscure the celestial display.

The ongoing geomagnetic storm has escalated to an “extreme” level, rated 5 out of 5 by the Space Weather Prediction Center, marking a significant escalation in solar activity not witnessed since 2003.

This surge in solar activity manifests in the form of mesmerising auroras, illuminating Earth’s poles with vivid displays of colour. However, the heightened solar activity also poses risks to communication networks, satellite operations, and high-frequency radio communications, prompting vigilance from authorities, including the Biden administration, according to CNN.

Scientists caution that the surge in solar flares and coronal mass ejections emanating from the sun could disrupt communications on Earth well into the weekend. The sun, currently in a phase of heightened activity known as solar maximum, is expected to continue its robust performance through mid-to-late 2024.

Solar cycles, characterised by fluctuations in sunspot activity, dictate the sun’s behaviour, transitioning from periods of relative calm to intense activity and back again. The current cycle, Solar Cycle 25, has exceeded expectations in terms of activity, with NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center noting an uptick in sunspot counts compared to the previous cycle’s peak.

This heightened activity has been accompanied by potent solar flares and coronal mass ejections, phenomena that can disrupt Earth’s ionosphere, impacting communications and GPS systems with immediate effect. Additionally, spacecraft and astronauts face risks from energetic particles released by the sun, necessitating robust protection measures, CNN reported. (ANI)

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India fired up for a busy slate of space missions in 2024

Taking forward the country’s “walk to space”, ISRO started 2024 with a big announcement as the space agency declared the names of four astronauts for its Gaganyaan mission, which is India’s first human space flight programme. Besides Gaganyaan-1 programme, the ISRO also unveiled a compelling line-up of several other ground-breaking missions in 2024 … writes Dr Satish Sharma

Indian space odyssey touched a new high in 2023 after it became the first country to successfully soft land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon’s south pole with its Chandrayaan-3 mission. 

India’s space research agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), also attracted international admiration after it successfully conducted the Aditya-L1 mission to observe the dynamics of the Sun’s chromosphere and corona last year.

India’s union cabinet recently passed a resolution on the success of the lunar mission, calling it a victory for the country as well as ISRO.

Chandrayaan-3 mission’s success also received appreciation from the global leaders.

Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Aditya-L1, India’s maiden solar mission, on board PSLV-C57 lifts off from the launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre. (Photo: IANS/R. Parthi bhan)

Taking forward the country’s “walk to space”, ISRO started 2024 with a big announcement as the space agency declared the names of four astronauts for its Gaganyaan mission, which is India’s first human space flight programme.

Besides Gaganyaan-1 programme, the ISRO also unveiled a compelling line-up of several other ground-breaking missions in 2024. 

India’s space research agency’s ventures — from probing the mysteries of cosmic X-rays to launching India’s first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite — have promised to redefine the understanding of Earth, explore the depths of space, and set the stage for unprecedented human spaceflight.

PSLV-C58 with XPoSat

ISRO’s 2024 started with the successful launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C58) carrying XPoSat, the country’s first X-Ray Polarimeter Satellite.

The Indian space research agency lifted off PSLV-C58, which successfully launched XPoSat satellite into an Eastward low inclination orbit on January 01.

ISRO’s PSLV-C58 carrying an X-ray polarimeter satelite and 10 other satelites lifts off from the spaceposrt of Sriharikota. (IANS/ISRO)

According to ISRO, X-ray Polarimeter Satellite or XPoSat is the first dedicated scientific satellite from ISRO to carry out research in space-based polarisation measurements of X-ray emission from celestial sources. 

It carries two payloads namely POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) and XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing), as per ISRO.

ISRO said the main objectives of this mission include measuring polarisation of X-rays in the energy band 8-30keV emanating from about 50 potential cosmic sources, carrying out long term spectral and temporal studies of cosmic X-ray sources in the energy band 0.8-15keV, and conducting polarisation and spectroscopic measurements of X-ray emissions from cosmic sources.

NISAR

The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission represents a pathbreaking collaboration between India’s ISRO and the United States’ NASA. 

According to ISRO, NISAR is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) observatory being jointly developed by the two leading space agencies. 

ISRO Chairman S. Somanath During A Press Conference After The Successful Soft Landing Of Chandrayaan-3

NISAR’s dual band (L and S) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) will map the entire globe in 12 days and provide spatially and temporally consistent data for understanding changes in Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, ground water and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides, says ISRO.

The mission was scheduled to be launched in January this year, but some modifications to a large deployable antenna on the radar spacecraft will delay its launch, likely to the second half of the year, according to a Space News report.

GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS

The launch of the GSLV-F14/INSAT-3DS mission was accomplished on February 17. 

According to ISRO, the GSLV, in its 16th mission, aims at deploying the INSAT-3DS meteorological satellite into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). 

ISRO’s meteorological satellite INSAT-3DS aboard GSLV-F14 at the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. (Photo IANS@isro)

INSAT-3DS is a crucial communication satellite within the Indian National Satellite System (INSAT) series, and its primary mission is to monitor Earth’s surface, carry out Oceanic observations and its environment in various spectral channels of meteorological importance, provide the vertical profile of various meteorological parameters of the Atmosphere, provide the Data Collection and Data Dissemination capabilities from the Data Collection Platforms (DCPs), and provide Satellite Aided Search and Rescue services.

Gaganyaan 1

In a collaborative effort between ISRO and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Gaganyaan-1 mission envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching crew members to an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters.

According to ISRO, the project is accomplished through an optimal strategy by considering inhouse expertise, experience of Indian industry, intellectual capabilities of Indian academia and research institutions along with cutting edge technologies available with international agencies.

Mangalyaan-2 (MOM 2)

ISRO’s ambitious sequel to its successful Mars mission, Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM 2) — named Mangalyaan-2, is aimed at studying the surface, atmosphere, and climatic conditions of Mars.

This mission will equip the orbiter spacecraft with advanced scientific instruments, including a hyperspectral camera, magnetometer, and radar. 

According to ISRO, Mangalyaan-2 mission is a testament to India’s expanding prowess in planetary exploration.

X-ray Polarimeter Satellite

X-ray Polarimeter Satellite or XPoSat is the first dedicated polarimetry mission of India to study various dynamics of bright astronomical X-ray sources in extreme conditions. 

ISRO says the spacecraft will carry two scientific payloads in a low earth orbit. 

ISRO’s PSLV-C58 carrying an X-ray polarimeter satelite and 10 other satelites lifts off from the spaceposrt of Sriharikota on Jan. 1, 2024.(IANSXISRO)

According to the Indian space agency, the primary payload POLIX (Polarimeter Instrument in X-rays) will measure the polarimetry parameters (degree and angle of polarization) in medium X-ray energy range of 8-30 keV photons of astronomical origin, while the XSPECT (X-ray Spectroscopy and Timing) payload will give spectroscopic information in the energy range of 0.8-15 keV.

Venus Orbiter Mission (Shukrayaan-1)

ISRO, under the Venus Orbiter Mission, plans to launch Shukrayaan-1, a spacecraft destined to orbit Venus for five years. 

According to ISRO sources, this venus orbiter mission, scheduled for December 2024 or early 2025, aims to study the atmosphere of Venus. 

This mission will be India’s first foray into exploring the mysteries of the second planet from the Sun, reports said.

ALSO READ: Space Economy: India sets Sights on 5x Growth

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N. Korea launches of IRBM tipped with hypersonic warhead

Hypersonic missiles are designed to travel at more than five times the speed of sound on irregular and low-altitude trajectories…reports Asian Lite News

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un attended and oversaw the test launch of a brand new intermediate-range sold fuel missile that carried a hypersonic warhead on Tuesday, the country’s official state media was cited as saying by Kyodo News

According to Korean Central News Agency Kim Jong Un, attended the test launch of the solid fuel-powered Hwasong-16 missile in a Pyongyang suburb and claimed all missiles his country has developed are now based on solid fuel technology and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, with the projectile falling into waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese Defence Ministry. The South Korean military said the projectile might have been a hypersonic weapon.

Hypersonic missiles are designed to travel at more than five times the speed of sound on irregular and low-altitude trajectories.

Solid-fuel missiles do not need to be filled up with fuel before being launched like liquid-fuel missiles do, making it harder for other countries to detect launch preparations and enhancing their pre-emptive strike and retaliatory capability, Kyodo News reported.

North Korea said in January it had test-fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile carrying a hypersonic warhead, and said last month that it had successfully conducted a grounded test of a solid-fuel jet engine for an intermediate-range hypersonic missile.

During Tuesday’s test, the hypersonic warhead reached its first peak at a height of 101.1 kilometers and the second at 72.3 km while making a 1,000-km-long flight as scheduled to accurately hit waters in the Sea of Japan, according to KCNA. The Japanese Defence Ministry had said the missile flew over 650 km.

The test-fire had no adverse effect on the security of neighbouring countries, the news agency said.

According to the Kyodo News report, Kim expressed great satisfaction over the test-fire result and said his country has perfected the project for “putting all the tactical, operational and strategic missiles with various ranges on solid-fueled, warhead-controlled and nuclear warhead-carrying basis.”

He noted the current “epoch-making success serves as a special event in which a great change will be brought about in enhancing the nuclear war deterrent” of North Korea’s armed forces, according to KCNA. (ANI)

ALSO READ-North Korea Demonstrates Growing Threat with Hypersonic Technology

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ESA Chief Praises ISRO for ‘Astonishing’ Space Achievements

Josef Aschbacher said, What India is accomplishing in space – especially in Lunar exploration – is astonishing.”

Director General of European Space Agency (ESA), Josef Aschbacher, heaped praise on the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for its recent successful launches and said that India’s accomplishments in space and especially in lunar exploration is ‘astonishing’.

Aschbacher posted an appreciation post on X, after ESA hosted its 323rd Council meeting in Paris which was attended by the ISRO Chairman, S Somanath.

ESA Member States met in Paris, France, for the 323rd session of the ESA Council on March 26 and 27, 2024.

The European scientist also underscored that the significance of strengthening ties and deepening cooperation with international partners cannot be underestimated.

“What India is accomplishing in space – especially in Lunar exploration – is astonishing. We hosted ISRO’s Chairman, Dr. S. Somanath at ESA Council today. It was a milestone occasion for Delegates to learn more about current and future plans for ESA-ISRO cooperation,” he posted on X.

“The strategic importance of strengthening ties and deepening cooperation with international partners cannot be underestimated,” he added.

Additionally, Astronaut Thomas Pesquet also shared about meeting with the ISRO chairman and the ESA Director and said that the they witnessed enthusiastic exchanges between the two leaders.

“Very proud to welcome ISRO chairman Shri. S. Somanath at ESA HQ in Paris yesterday, with our director Josef Aschbacher. Enthusiastic exchanges between the two men, and abounding cooperation opportunities between the two organisations. Let’s co-travel to space together!,” he posted on X.

In a stellar display of prowess, India soared to new heights in 2023 with the successful soft landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the South Pole of the Moon and the launch of Aditya-L1, India’s first solar mission.

These milestones not only secured India’s standing in the global space economy but also fueled the engines for the private space sector in India.

On August 23, 2023, the Chandrayaan-3 mission created history with the successful soft landing on Moon’s surface.

India is now the first nation to reach near the Moon’s unexplored South Pole and ranks amongst the top four nations to carry out a soft landing on the lunar surface.

Chandrayaan-3 is India’s third lunar mission and the second attempt to land softly on the moon’s surface. It’s part of the Chandrayaan program, a series of missions developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to explore the moon. The mission consists of a Vikram lunar lander, a Pragyan lunar rover, and a propulsion module that carries the spacecraft from Earth orbit to lunar orbit.

Additionally, in a major milestone, India placed its first dedicated solar mission, the Aditya-L1 spacecraft, in the Halo orbit. The country went gaga over this historic achievement, especially since this mission came at the back of India’s moon landing, the Chandrayaan-3 mission.

Aditya-L1 reached Lagrange Point L1 which is about 1.5 million km from earth. The PSLV-C57.1 rocket carrying the Aditya-L1 orbiter lifted off successfully from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, in September. (ANI)

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Starship Will Be On Mars In 5 Years: Musk

Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX this week successfully launched the third test flight of its 400-foot-tall Starship rocket, along with the Heavy booster.

Elon Musk on Saturday said that the huge starship Starship rocket, that aims to help land astronauts on the Moon in 2026, will be on Mars within five years.

Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX this week successfully launched the third test flight of its 400-foot-tall Starship rocket, along with the Heavy booster.

“Starship will be on Mars within 5 years,” the billionaire posted on X. The Tesla CEO also posted some images of the Starship rocket, saying “wild that this is a real picture”.

“Pretty much anything that you can do on the ground should be done on the ground. But for warming up Mars, reflectors made on Phobos & Deimos (Mars’ two moons) could be a good way to go,” he further said.

Starship is the world’s most powerful rocket and will be used to send humans to the Moon and then eventually to Mars.

Starship consists of a giant first-stage booster called Super Heavy and a 50 metres upper-stage spacecraft known as Starship.

Musk eventually plans to shift at least one million people to Mars. “We are mapping out a game plan to get a million people to Mars,” Musk wrote in a recent post on X.

“Civilisation only passes the single-planet Great Filter when Mars can survive even if Earth supply ships stop coming,” he added. “One day, a trip to Mars will be like a flight across the country”. He also aims to build a base on the Moon.

“Humanity should have a moon base, cities on Mars and be out there among the stars,” the X owner said.