Monday, Nov 03, 2003
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By Radhakrishnan Kuttoor
Talking to The Hindu at Kozhencherry near here, Dr. Joseph said that India's lunar mission, with an estimated expenditure of nearly $82.5 million was not aimed at competing with any other country. According to him, India's space research programme is basically aimed at harnessing the immense potential of space technology to boost the country's socio-economic development and the country has already made a great leap in this direction.
Dr Joseph said that sending an Indian on a lunar mission or putting a spacecraft on the moon were not difficult tasks for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). What is needed is the development of the re-entry capability. "We need to have a simulator to create a zero-gravity condition for the training of people who will take part in the lunar expedition." He said that one of the fundamental scientific studies still pending is to find out the origin of the moon and for that we are using some of the techniques that have not been used earlier.
"Now there are people who criticise the country's lunar mission, which involves a hefty money-spinning. But, it is also important that we have to move with the changing times so that we should not feel that we missed the bus, later," he said. "We have missed the bus to the `Nuclear Club' simply due to certain negative attitude towards it."
Dr. Joseph said that a successful lunar mission would propel the country into a new space age, which would contribute to the technological and industrial development in a big way. He said that the moon could be used as a base for scientific investigation on the outer space. According to him, mining and processing of exotic elements on the moon is another factor. "The Moon itself is a bed that can be used for running a reactor to produce certain crystals growing at a lower gravity," he added.
The abundant presence of Helium-3, which is regarded as one of the cleanest fuels and found sparsely on Earth, is another attraction, Dr. Joseph said. "Now, people think of a robotic colony on the Moon. Fifty years from now, I will not be surprised, if there are colonies on Moon," he added.
Dr. Joseph said that most of the lunar landings were on the equatorial plane of the moon as it was more comfortable for landings. "But, that is not the full story of the Moon. It is noteworthy that studies on the polar region of the moon is crucial in determining the presence of life there or to look for possible sources of water on its south pole, which remains largely unexplored," he said. What is mysterious is that with no atmosphere and not much geological churning, the surface rocks on the moon are said to be 4.6 billion years old, he said.
The guiding force behind the earth observation remote sensors developed by the ISRO, Dr. Joseph was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1999 for his contributions in the field of remote sensing activities. Dr. Joseph is better known for the designing and fabrication of the remote sensing cameras of the Indian Remote sensing Satellite built at the SAC, Ahmedabad.
According Joseph "the Earth is like a self-contained spaceship. The solar energy is the only external energy and the rest of the resources are with us and can not be replenished."
He said that remote sensing provides timely and repetitive information on the phenomenon happening on the Earth and its environment. This can help the country achieve socio-economic development, by better managing its natural resources while minimising adverse impacts on the Earth's resources, environment and climate. According to him, India is a pioneer in the field of remote sensing.
Remote sensing is used in the observation of the Earth's resources such as forests, agricultural crops, water resources, mineral and marine resources, and so on. It is used to issue warnings in the event of natural calamities such as earthquake, landslide, drought, and so on and to monitor and assess their impact, he said.
According to Joseph, apart from the synoptic view, imaging from satellites has its advantages. Since the satellite orbit is fixed in space, as the earth rotates, one sees newer areas during each revolution of the satellite, thus enabling us to cover the whole globe within a certain period.
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