Shanth’s Dairy

October 23, 2008

Chandrayaan- Indian messenger to the Moon

Filed under: Interests — Shanth @ 7:39 am
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With the successful launch of Chandrayaan,the messenger of 100 billion Indians to the moon , ISRO finished writing the preface to the modern Indian space research histroy.As the Polar Satelite Launch


Source: ISRO

Vehicle (PSLV-11) carrying Chandrayaan was lifted off the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota, India joined the elite list of countries which could reach out to the moon. India is the sixth nation to undertake lunar missions only after the European Space Agency (ESA), Japan, China, the US and Russia.

The very first question that came to my mind when I heard about Chandrayaan was why is India interested in sending a space craft to the moon. But I knew the answer myself. We Indians fancy space research since the time of Aryabhatta and I am pretty sure that the idea for this mission did not come out of the blue. It is a well architecured plan and which is being implemented in a sequence. The success of a lunar mission like any other space mission is verymuch dependent on the launch vehicle. I think the primary motivation behind a mission of this magnitude is the success and reliability of the PSLV. PSLV turns to be ISRO’s greatest sucess with more than 10 successful launches. Indian space missions were so far limited and contributed to the infrastructural developement of the country including satellites for televisions and telecommunications, weather monitoruing, agriculture development. But with a commercial level launch vehicle like PSLV in it’s arsenal, it was a timely decision to pay the international space community back for everything they did for India so far. Chadrayaan attempts to perceive the moon from different direction that nobody ever attempted. The aim of the mission according to ISRO is the preparation of a 3-dimensional atlas of the lunar surface and chemical mapping of entire lunar surface.

It is obvious that ISRO has it’s eyes set on the moon itself and not just the lunar orbit. As ISRO would put it one of the motives behind Chandrayaan is ,”Chandrayaan-1 mission would pass on the baton to sophisticated future lunar and planetary missions with possible landing and sample return capability.” A mission like Chandrayaan will provide a quantum leap in the technology and understanding of the space missions. Chandrayaan just completed it’s fifth orbit around the moon after which it will be aligned to the lunar orbit which finally sets the space craft in a circular orbit of 100Km around the moon. As Chandrayaan reaches its orbit it will set it self as the forerunner to many more lunar missions in the near future.

Bon Voyage Chandrayaan!

October 2, 2008

LHC Update – 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shanth @ 8:52 am
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The LHC (Source: CERN)

As Ed Murphy said, “if anything can go wrong, it will.” It would have been a miracle if LHC had worked the way it was supposed to the very first time. I guess we could expect problems in an equipment of such size and expense. But LHC did perform beyond our expectations on the very first day. Coming to the update, there is a bad news and not so good news.

In the last couple of weeks LHC sustained some major drawbacks. On September 18th, CERN reported that there was a failure in one of the surface transformers and it switched off the main compressors of the cryogenics for two sectors of LHC. I guess what that means is that the temperature inside LHC went over the threshold because of the transformer failure. So it took them a while to get it back on track. The major disappointing news is that CERN is investigating another failure in one of the eight sectors of the LHC. On September 23rd, a large helium leak into sector 3-4 of the LHC tunnel has been detected. The most likely cause of the incident, according to CERN, was a faulty electrical connection between two of the accelerator’s magnets. So they had to bring the temperature back up to the room temperature before the crew could go in there and fix the problem. According to LHC this process will take until November, that is exactly when the entire research infrastructure of CERN is due maintenance. So in a nut shell, The LHC experiment is delayed until spring of 2009. The not so exciting news is that, on 21st OCT  CERN is organizing an official ceremony to inaugurate the LHC. I do not know what that really means to somebody like me. From what I read, it sounds more like a non-scientific event.  Only representatives of the governments of CERN’s Member and Observer States and other participating nations will take part in this event.

Here is the parting note made by General Robert Aymar, Director of CERN, “While the timing is undoubtedly a disappointment, a few extra weeks on a project that has been over two decades in the making is not very much. It is simply a fact of life in experimental physics at the frontiers of knowledge and technology.” I guess we all understand that, so keep your spirits alive until spring of 2009.

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