At first they appeared disinterested and distracted. They talked, whispered and many of them really did not show much interest at all.
Despite this the presentation went on and on. It was by the director of Isro's Space Application Centre R.R.Navalgund, at the Tifr to mark the National Science Day. The audience comprised mainly students from the nearby Kendriya Vidyalaya at Navy Nagar in Colaba who had gathered at the Homi Bhabha auditorium.
The title of the presentation was ``Remote Sensing of the Earth and Moon,'' and Dr Navalgund told ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' that he would make it intelligible to the younger generation.But honestly though the talk was informative, it was slightly technical which failed at times to sustain the attention and interest of the young audience.
It was for this reason that the students started losing interest and began talking among themselves, But, it must be stated that the speaker came out with a lot of exciting information about the moon. He showed three dimensional images of the lunar surface taken by Chandrayaan-1's Terrain Mapping Camera and really it seemed as though the audience was standing near the moon's craters. ``We got a volume of data from Chandrayaan-1 especially about the craters. There are craters within craters and these are known as secondary craters,'' he said. We also saw the lunar tube which could be used for human settlement.
When the ppt ended the the auditorium was thrown open to questions, one could not really believe that the students were not listening to the lecture, There was one question after another all serious, intelligent and good ones. They were excited and thrilled to seek clarifications and put more and more questions which Dr Navalgund patiently and above all with a lot of interest.
The q-a session revealed two important factors. First India and the US, are engaged in informal talks about the former participating in the International Space Station programme to do experiments relating to greenhouse gases and measuring them. Navalgund later told BMM that it was at a very preliminary stage and requested me not to highlight it prominently in the media. When BMM filed the story this morning for The Times of India, it did not mention this at all.
Second thanks to a question put by the secretary of the India chapter of the Moon Society, Pradeep Mohandas, we came to know that the Indian Space Science Data Centre, a part of Isro, has opened its own website. When BMM reached home and accessed the site, it immediately registered and was able to access data provided by Chandrayaan-1. Other sections of this site are still under construction.Why Isro never mentioned the launch of this site, remains a mystery. So typical of Isro. Thanks to Pradeep we came to know this site has been created.
One thing became very clear last evening---the younger generation is very interested and excited about space missions and want to be a part of it. Why cannot Isro take advantage of this and involve them in some way or the other way as Nasa, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency, Jaxa, do? For example, how many are aware that YouthSat and X-Sat, two student-related satellites will be launched this month along with the indigenous Resourcesat-2 by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Not many. This is really unfortunate.
This brings me to another issue. Just before the ppt started, Dr Navalgund presented lovely pictures taken by Chandrayaan-1 to Tifr.
Cannot this be made available to the public on a payment?