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imagesPANAJI: The reasons for early termination of the Chandrayaan-I mission are now tumbling out and they reveal that ISRO had kept the Moon orbiter’s
problems tightly under wraps. ( Watch Video )

Contrary to the space agency’s explanation that Chandrayaan’s orbit around the Moon had been raised from 100km to 200km in May this year for a better view of the Moon’s surface, it is now known that this was because of a miscalculation of the Moon’s temperature that had led to faulty thermal protection.

Admitting this, Dr T K Alex, director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, said, “We assumed that the temperature at 100km above the Moon’s surface would be around 75 degrees Celsius. However, it was more than 75 degrees and problems started to surface. We had to raise the orbit to 200km.”

On May 19, however, ISRO said it had raised Chandrayaan’s orbit to “enable further studies on orbit perturbations, gravitational field variation of the Moon and also enable imaging of the lunar surface with a wider swath”.

It now transpires that heating problems on the craft had begun as early as November 25, 2008, forcing ISRO to deactivate some of the payloads — there were 11 in all.

As a result, some of the experiments could not be carried out which raised questions on whether the pre-launch thermal vacuum test done on the spacecraft at the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore was adequate.

In early 2009, the situation improved and Chandrayaan-1 started operating normally. However, the snags resurfaced. This time with the two star sensors of Chandrayaan because of high temperature. The sensors are crucial in determining the orientation of the craft in space.

The first star sensor packed up on April 26, and even the back-up sensor failed during the second week of May.

ISRO officials said scientists and engineers used ingenious ways to restore Chandrayaan-I by using gyroscopes. An official requesting anonymity acknowledged: “This was purely a temporary step. It was like a broken car’s steering wheel being repaired with scotch tapes. We could not predict how long this arrangement would last,” he admitted.

The official said much before the official announcement of the project’s end on August 30, it had become clear that the two-year mission would be cut short since 95% of the scientific goals had been accomplished.

Despite the failure of the star sensors, Chandrayaan-1 transmitted excellent images including that of the solar eclipse on July 22. Also at 12.30am on August 21, it flew along with Nasa’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) for four minutes to detect water ice in the north pole of the moon.

But worse was to follow. At 1.30am on August 29, communication with the spacecraft snapped all of a sudden. ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair has been quoted as saying that due to unforeseen radiation problems the two computers in the spacecraft controlling communication got affected resulting in the breakdown of communications. He has admitted that many of the heat-related problems were not anticipated at all, and it was definitely a learning experience.

“Keeping this in mind, Chandrayaan-2’s thermal design will be strengthened to withstand more than 100 degrees Celsius,” Alex told TOI on the sidelines of the recently concluded eighth international conference on low cost planetary mission conducted by the International Academy of Astronautics in Goa.

BARC is collaborating with ISRO to strengthen the radiation shield of Chandrayaan-2, slated for lift off in 2013 from Sriharikota. The average day temperature on the Moon’s surface is 107 degrees Celsius, while the mean night temperature is -153 degree Celsius.

Although, ISRO claims that 95% of its planned experiments have been completed, it remains to be known whether payloads designed to operate at a 100-km orbit completed their missions. The issue has triggered a fierce debate on whether ISRO should have declared it a one-year mission right at the beginning rather than an ambitious two-year programme.

Among the experiments to be conducted from a 100km orbit were observations in the visible, near-infrared and soft and hard X-rays. Further, the Lunar Laser Ranging Instrument’s objective was to provide ranging data for determining the height difference between the spacecraft and the lunar surface. Scientists admit that at an altitude of 200km, the return signal could be too weak for the purpose.

Chandrayaan’s objectives also included orbiting around the Moon at a height of 100km for chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the surface and its X-ray spectrometer was to use X-rays to map the surface composition of the Moon and help scientists understand its origin and evolution, as well as quantifying the mineral resources that exist there.

The spacecraft’s 11 scientific instruments were built in India, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden and Bulgaria. The mission was formally called off on August 30 by ISRO, which said that a failure analysis committee will probe into the matter. ISRO chairperson G Madhavan Nair also said US and European space agencies who had also taken part in the Indian space mission “were satisfied” with the results.



thumb.cmsHYDERABAD: The body of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is yet to be laid to rest, but mourning in Hyderabad has given way to ugly power politics with the deceased chief minister’s loyalists on Thursday unleashing a strident campaign for making his son Jaganmohan Reddy the new chief minister.

The campaign — quite unprecedented for the vulgar haste with which it has been mounted — reached a crescendo by evening when K Rosaiah was sworn in as interim CM. The erstwhile YSR cabinet in the presence of new CM Rosaiah passed a resolution on Thursday evening demanding that Jagan — just 100 days into formal politics — be made the new CM.

“Jagan knew the mind of Rajasekhara Reddy. He alone can finish the unfulfilled agenda of his father,” said government chief whip Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka who is marshalling the MLAs in favour of Jagan. Analysts said that more than Jagan it’s the lobby that gained from YSR that wants the son to take over the reins of the state, with a view to perpetuate status quo.

Congress sources in Delhi, however, said the high command was taking a dim view of this unseemly strong-arm tactic to push through Jagan as CM. They threw up other names as possible successor: Union urban development minister Jaipal Reddy, minister of state for defence Pallam Raju, NTR’s daughter and junior Union minister Purandeshwari Devi and acting CM K Rosaiah.

The day of dramatic developments began soon after it became clear that Rajasekhara Reddy had perished in the helicopter crash. Minutes after the bodies were recovered, the “Jagan-as-CM” campaign picked up momentum. Almost all the state ministers, about 22 MPs and several Congress legislators pitched Jagan’s case to the media even as hundreds of party workers gathered at the secretariat, CM’s camp office, Gandhi Bhavan and various traffic intersections vocally making a similar demand.

By the afternoon, the Jagan group met Union law minister M Veerappa Moily at the Lake View guest house in pursuance of their demand even as many Congress MLAs faxed individual memorandum to the party headquarters in New Delhi in support of Jagan as CM.

By the evening, minutes after K Rosaiah was sworn in as chief minister, the Jagan loyalists met governor N D Tiwari and submitted a list of 122 signatures in support of him being made the chief minister. According to sources, there was even an attempt to pressure the governor to swear in Jagan as acting CM immediately, but that was abandoned as Rosaiah had already been sworn in by the time the loyalists reached Raj Bhavan.

Analysts said that the Jagan camp realised that there would be a power struggle for the CM’s post and therefore decided to make the pitch first. An ungainly battle is imminent as there are many other aspirants for the CM’s post including Rajya Sabha members V Hanumantha Rao and K Keshava Rao, apart from Jaipal Reddy, Pallam Raju and Purandeshwari Devi.

Jagan, 36, is a first time MP from Kadapa and is merely 100 days old in politics. While Veerappa Moily made it clear that Rosaiah was only an interim CM and that the Congress high command will chose YSR’s successor in the next few days, the Jagan votaries seem ready to take on the central leadership on the issue.


yahoo_2Yahoo Inc. has abandoned its ambitious India-focused social networking site SpotM and announced to replace it with “Guru”.

It is not the first time when Yahoo! has closed down its utilities. The internet giant had earlier dropped Yahoo 360 Geocities , Yahoo Gallery and its beta stage social networking site Mash in September 2008.

Confirming the development, a Yahoo! India spokesperson said, “After careful consideration, Yahoo! will no longer offer SpotM, a communications service that we experimented with in India.” However, he declined to divulge any detail of Guru or any subsequent application by the company.

The company offered a variety of facilities through SpotM for users such as SMS integration to target young population in the age group of 16-24 years.

Some people believe that SpotM was nothing more than an experiment for the company as it never tried to market it like its other utilities. The internet services company could have learnt a lesson from the experiment, gaining new experience to add in its forthcoming categories.


1BANGALORE: Websites will soon be accessible to the disabled, especially the visually-impaired, once the Union government makes it mandatory for all websites to go audible.

For this, websites have to conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. This new standard, along with a screen reader, will make content audible through a headphone or a speaker. A visually-impaired person can use the keyboard to respond — the tab keys will take him or her through different links.

The project has been given to BarrierBreak Technologies and will take 10%-15% of the ordinary project cost.

“It will not only help blind people, but also aged and illiterate people,” said Javed Abidi, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People.

The idea came up last year on December 3, `Day for the Disabled’, in Delhi. “The IT ministry was proactive about the programme. The draft, approved by the ministry, will be released soon,” he said. The policy would be extended to other hardware as well — like the ATM, television, washing machine and microwave. This will be the second phase of the project.


4955925.cmsIndian international Renedy Singh scored a gem of a free-kick against Syria in the Nehru Cup finals which was on par with some of the best you can see in the sport of football

It was Monday evening and all eyes were on the India-Syria final at the Ambedkar Stadium. The moment had come for India to show their mettle against a team placed 61 spots higher than the hosts.

India started the two halves well however it was the Syrians who looked much more in control of the proceedings as the game progressed.

The West Asians hit the woodwork and looked dangerous every time they went forward.

Amidst all this, a fan carried a banner: Renedy, Sushil, Gouramangi and Surkumar, Manipuris are proud of you.

Fast forward to the second half of the extra time, and in comes Renedy Singh with the fans roaring as he enters.

“I want to thank all Delhi supporters . They have been really great. We couldn’t have done anything without them. It’s a great feeling. They do play an important role,” said Renedy.

Bhaichung is fouled, Renedy lines up to take the free-kick and bends it into the near post and stuns the Syrians who hadn’t conceded in the tournament.

“David Beckham is the best dead ball specialist. I have been a big fan of him throughout my career. I have scored earlier from dead ball situations but this is one is right on top,” said the India number eight.

However, the Manipuri was disappointed that his goal couldn’t decide the fate of the game which should have been the case had India not conceded in the dying moments of the game.

“We were just 30 seconds away from glory and they equalised,” he said.

“But it’s a great thing to have won three titles in three years. Credit goes to the coach as he made us believe that we can achieve these things.

“I would dedicate my goal and the win to the team and the supporters. Like we need to win for our efforts, they also deserve to see us to do well for all of their support,” said the East Bengal player.

The crowd at Ambedkar saw a large contingent hailing from the north east and Renedy states that it’s down to the popularity of the game in the north eastern region of India.

“North east supporters play an important role. 60 to 70% crowd was from Delhi University where people from north east often come for studies. Bob (Houghton) wants to play in Delhi because of them. Whenever we are trailing they still cheer us. We are not a Japan or a Korea but with the public support, I feel things are possible,” said the double footed star.

Renedy always believed that India could get the better of Syria in the finals and he has his reasons for it.

“I have never said we don’t have a chance. I had a feeling that we would win. In the Saturday’s game against Syria, Pradeep hit the post and Mehraj also had a great chance in the first half. I knew that if we get the chances, then we could do something.

“I’m very pleased and for now, I just to enjoy this moment,” said Renedy who shall be joining his club East Bengal to play in the IFA Shield.


Jaswant-SinghNEW DELHI: Jaswant Singh on Friday moved the Supreme Court against the ban on his book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah by the Gujarat government. In his
petition, the expelled BJP leader said the ban violated his constitutional rights and was imposed without reading the contents of the book.

The petition said the Gujarat government notification on August 19 banning the book, within two days of its release, did not mention the content. “Fundamental right to freedom of speech has been sought to be taken away by Gujarat government by banning the book by hasty and arbitrary notification,” Mr Jaswant Singh said.

In its notification, the Gujarat government had refrained from mentioning Sardar Patel and said the contents of the book are highly objectionable, against national interests, misleading, against tranquillity of the public and against interests of the state.

The Gujarat government may find it difficult to justify the ban, as earlier court verdicts had laid down ground for imposing ban on books. Questioning the basis for the ban, Arun Shourie had said, in a recent article, that there was not a single reference in the book that could be taken to denigrate Sardar Patel.

He also said that not being “acceptable” to a state is not a ground on which a book can be banned under the Indian Constitution and laws. According to Mr Shourie, most of the grounds that have been listed by the state government are “ridiculous”. He cited court judgements in cases like the book written by Nathuram Godse’s brother Gopal Vinayak Godse which held Mahatma Gandhi responsible for the partition, and said even in such an extreme case the order banning the book was struck down.

To add to the Gujarat government’s troubles, the ban story may just end up in the realisation that it helped in giving more publicity to the book by stirring a controversy over its prohibition. Besides the fact that the ban was futile, like most bans on books, as “Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence” sold like hot cakes, past judgements by SC can only be disheartening for the state government.

At the time of partition in 1947, SC had held “the effect of words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong-minded, firm and courageous men, not those with weak and vacillating minds, nor of those who scent danger in every hostile point of view”.

A Supreme Court bench while reversing a Bombay high court order on American scholar James W Laine’s book “Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India”, had said the “author of the book has exercised his reason and his own analytical skills before choosing any literature which he intends to include in his book. It is very improbable to imagine that any serious and intense scholar will attempt to malign the image of this glorious Institute”. He was being prosecuted by the Maharashtra Police for allegedly promoting animosity between communities through his book on Maratha warrior Shivaji.

Meanwhile, Mr Singh repeated his claim that Jawaharlal Nehru along with Patel and Congress had contributed to the partition. In an interview to a Pakistani news channel he said they agreed to what Jinnah demanded but in a truncated form. “Today we would have been a global power,” he said. Agonised over the burning of his book, Mr Singh said he felt “wounded…as if an innocent child has been burnt”.

Mr Singh, expelled from BJP for the book, has likened the action to that of Congress banning Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” and said it amounted to “banning thinking”.

Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com

indexWASHINGTON: US nuclear pundits feel the Indian establishment — political, scientific, or both in concert – may be lining up to conduct more
nuclear tests to validate and improve the country’s arsenal before the Obama administration shuts the door on nuclear explosions.

”You bet he wants to test again,” said Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Washington DC-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, when asked about the remarks from a key Indian nuclear scientist suggesting India’s thermonuclear test was not up to mark. ”Imagine you are a nuclear weapons designer who has corrected the mistakes and ironed out the wrinkles. You would be crazy not to want to test again.”

”You have to look at the DNA of a weapons designer. They always want to make the weapons smaller, lighter, more powerful,” Sokolski added. ”If you blindfold them, tie their hands and leave them in the middle of a forest, they will still make their way to a test site.”

While Sokolski addressed the Indian motivations largely from the technology validation standpoint, Washington has long believed that geo-political objectives rather than scientific or technical metrics drives New Delhi’s nuclear weapons quest. The argument has gotten another boost following the remarks by a key Indian scientist, K.Santhanam, questioning the potency of India’s thermonuclear bomb.

While ”We told you so,” was pretty much the reaction in the US scientific and strategic community on the renewed controversy over the yield of the thermo-nuclear device in Shakti series of nuclear test arising from remarks by Santhanam, there is lingering suspicion here that the disclosure in politically driven. It’s rare for Indian scientists to break ranks on a sensitive national security issue.

Why would Santhanam go public, with such deliberation, on something that was commonly discussed and widely acknowledged in scientific circles, a decade after the questions first surfaced?

The answer, according to some nuclear pundits mulling on the issue on blogs: To ward off growing American pressure on India to sign various nuclear containment treaties and perhaps enable India to conduct one last series of tests to validate and improve its nuclear arsenal.

In scores of research papers and studies in the immediate weeks and months of the 1998 nuclear tests in Pokhran, US scientists repeatedly questioned the reported yield of the thermo-nuclear device, saying it was well below India’s claim of 43-45 kilotons. In fact, some scientists, notably Terry Wallace, then with the University of Arizona and now attached to the Los Alamos National Laboratory, put the combined yield of the three May 11 tests at as low as 10 to 15 kilotons.

Two other tests on May 13 involved sub-kiloton devices for tactical weapons, which US scientists doubted even took place. Even the six nuclear tests claimed by Pakistan were treated with derision, with US scientists saying only two of them involved nuclear devices.

”This is quite clearly a case where governments tested for a political reason rather than scientific reasons, so we have to be suspicious of what they say,” Wallace, the country’s top nuclear seismology expert, had said about the reported yields.

On Thursday, suspicion lingered in strategic circles that even Santhanam’s ”admission” was cloaked in politics, aimed primarily at warding off US pressure on New Delhi to sign CTBT, the long-sought treaty to ban nuclear tests, and making ground for a further series of tests. There is renewed energy in Washington under the Democratic dispensation to push forward with such nuclear containment treaties after the previous Bush administration put them on the backburner.

Some US nuclear gurus also believe any break-out test at this point will be detrimental to India, even if it is aimed at validating its thermo-nuclear device, or the so-called Hydrogen Bomb.

“An Indian test would be very toxic to cooperation it has just gained under the nuclear deal. It’s hard to see what India would gain,” said Gary Milholin Director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

Ensuring a reliable thermonuclear bomb? Milholin scoffed at the idea. “There are people who say American nuclear bombs won’t work because we have not tested for so long,” he laughed. “I don’t think anyone would want to test that assumption.”

Similarly, he said, it would be risky for any country to count on India’s thermonuclear weapon to have a low yield.

“There are now ways other than testing to increase confidence,” Milholin added. “And I think India has enough computing power to do that.”

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