Making sense of Luna 25

At the outset, let’s hope the unfortunate demise of Russia’s Luna 25 mission to the moon will finally silence the social media brigade that’s been calling it a competitor to India’s Chandrayaan 3 – although I wouldn’t put it past some to thump their chests over the latter succeeding where the former couldn’t. To understand … Read more

On resource constraints and merit

In the face of complaints about how so few women have been awarded this year’s Swarnajayanti Fellowships in India, some scientists pushed back asking which of the male laureates who had been selected should have been left out instead. This is a version of the merit argument commonly applied to demands for reservation and quota in higher … Read more

Poor Sanskrit

‘BJP MP Says Speaking Sanskrit Beats Diabetes, Boosts Nervous System’, The Wire, December 13, 2019: In a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 12 about the Sanskrit University Bill, Ganesh Singh, the BJP MP from Satna, Madhya Pradesh, cited studies conducted by some American research institution to claim speaking Sanskrit every day “boosts the … Read more

The PM’s Chandrayaan group-hug

I understand Dutt’s interpretation of the moment in question but with reservations about what it signals for the nation’s many oppressed. For starters, how many people actually gave a damn? A few hundred people – many of them mainstream journalists – have been saying that over a billion people did, or should. But even if … Read more

Moon, mission and Modi

Should Prime Minister Narendra Modi not have been in the control room during the autonomous descent phase of Chandrayaan 2? Did his presence exert unnecessary pressure on the ISRO scientists? I don’t know if the pressure was unnecessary. Irrespective of who was present where, a decade-long, Rs-1,000-crore effort is going to be high-pressure when it … Read more

Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)

This image of Mars was taken in October 24, with MOM taking advantage of its elliptical orbit to capture the planet’s breadth. Credit: ISRO

This review assumes Tanul Thakur’s review as a preamble. There’s the argument that ISRO isn’t doing much by way of public outreach and trust in the media is at a low, and for many people – more than the most reliable sections of the media can possibly cover – Bollywood’s Mission Mangal could be the … Read more

Finding trash in the dumpster

Just as there’s no merit in writing a piece that is confused and incomplete, there’s no merit in digging through a dumpster and complaining that there’s trash. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt when The Quint publishes something as ass-backwards as this article, titled ‘SpaceX or ISRO, Who’s Winning the Race to Space?’, … Read more

For space, frugality is a harmful aspiration

Ref: ‘ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 mission to cost lesser than Hollywood movie Interstellar – here’s how they make it cost-effective’, staff, Moneycontrol, February 20, 2018. ∞ ‘Chandrayaan-2 mission cheaper than Hollywood film Interstellar’, Surendra Singh, Times of India, February 20, 2018. ∞ The following statements from the Moneycontrol and Times of India articles have no meaning: The cost of … Read more

Why Titan is awesome #11

Titaaaaan! Here we go again. 😄 As has been reported, NASA has been interested in sending a robotic submarine to Saturn’s moon Titan to explore the hydrocarbon lakes near its north pole. Various dates have been mentioned and in all it seems likely the mission will be able to take off around 2040. In the 22 years … Read more