Remember the Mars Orbiter Mission? Yes, that’s the fancy thing that the Indian Space Research Organisation launched on November 5, 2013.
The MOM was launched using the famous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has so far been the most successful launch vehicle ever in Indian aeronautical history, and among the most successful in the world. Only its maiden mission was a failure.
MOM was put into Low Earth Orbit by a mission PSLV titled PSLV C25.
The Mars Orbiter Mission is equipped with a main engine known as the Liquid Apogee Motor, and six smaller thrusters. The smaller thrusters were simultaneously fired six times through the month of November to slowly raise the apogee of the Low Earth Orbit of the MOM.
A firing of the Liquid Apogee Motor on November 30, 2013 pushed the spacecraft hurtling towards Mars.
MOM has used an orbit known as the Hohmann Transfer Orbit to get to Mars fast, and at the same time, by using the minimum fuel.
This is the most efficient type of orbit to get to Mars from Earth. The spacecraft is first put into Low Earth Orbit by a launch vehicle, which is indicated in the infographic by the green line.
The thrusters are then fired to give a boost to the spacecraft, and therefore raise the apogee of the orbit, thus putting the spacecraft into a new, elliptical orbit, indicated in the infographic by the yellow line.
Another firing of the thrusters further raises the apogee of the orbit, and puts the spacecraft into a trajectory that would send it hurtling straight towards Mars.
Trajectory corrections besides these two main firings of the thrusters may be performed as and when necessary. 3 such trajectory correction maneuvers were planned for MOM, out of which only two were ever deemed to be necessary and performed.
This fascinating image was shot on November 19, 2013, at 13:50 IST (08:20 UTC). I can safely presume I was then lazin’ away during the last period in school! It was taken from an altitude of 67,975 km, with a resolution of 3.53 km per pixel of the camera.
Meanwhile, towards the end of the long journey to Mars, ISRO began posting pictures giving a rare look in the processes involved in the manufacturing of the orbiter. They are available of the official Facebook page of ISRO.
September 16, 2014
ISRO issues a status update stating that all commands required for autonomous insertion of MOM into Mars orbit have been successfully uploaded to the orbiter. The 32 metre large antennae of the Indian Deep Space Network, commanded by ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network) was used to send the commands to the spacecraft.
A few days later, ISRO released another infographic on its Facebook page that detailed the ground stations that would be used by ISRO for the MOM:
ISRO’s own Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) ground station near Bangalore
3 other ground stations of the NASA Deep Space Network (NDSN) located in Madrid, Goldstone, and Canberra
In this context, it would be worthwhile to note that the first messages sent home whether MOM has been successfully put into Mars orbit would be sent to the Canberra ground station of the NDSN, as it would be the first ground station to have the spacecraft in its footprint.
That would be before the spacecraft is able to feed back detailed information back to ISRO once it appears in the footprint of the IDSN.
Liquid Apogee Motor Test Firing
ISRO later announced that since the 3rd Trajectory Correction Maneuver had not taken place as it was deemed unnecessary, there was enough fuel to carry out a test firing of the LAM, which had been inactive since December, when it pushed MOM hurtling towards Mars.
It was deemed necessary as there were initial apprehensions among technicians that something might go wrong with it due technical issues involved with its long period of inactivity.
A Wonderful Infographic
ISRO later released another wonderful infographic detailing the precise steps that would be involved in inserting MOM into Mars orbit.
Instead of me talking, let the infographic do it all for you.
Another Status Update
This was posted on September 19, 2014, at 07:58 IST, on the official Facebook page of ISRO.
Another Informative Infographic
ISRO soon released another infographic on September 21, 2014. I say, ISRO is becoming social media – savvy with this mission, indeed.
September 22, 2014; 06:00 IST
ISRO declares that MOM has entered the Gravitational Sphere of Influence of Mars.
LAM Test Firing Commences
ISRO later added that the scheduled test-firing of the Liquid Apogee Motor would take place at 14:30 IST on September 22, 2014.
The operation was then declared a resounding success, relieving the worried minds of many, including me.
ISRO indeed had a redundant plan should the LAM not perform as expected. However, that would have resulted in a partially successful mission. Nevertheless, that possibility has now been eliminated, and the mission proceeds as expected.
As of all major events, the Mars orbit insertion, which will go down as a historic milestone, shall be broadcasted live by the State broadcaster, Doordarshan.
As this infographic says, a broadcast will be starting from 06:45 IST, or 01:15 UTC, on September 24, 2014.
It is true that a live webcast would be available on the website of ISRO, but let me set your expectations by mentioning that it requires you to install a Windows Media Player Plugin, which comes with its own set of problems. In one word: don’t try it.
If you plan to watch on TV, well and good. Since the broadcast is being done by Doordarshan, a live stream of the same should be available on their official YouTube page:
September 24, 07:09 IST: ISRO Telemetry, Tracking & Command Network (ISTRAC) confirms that they have telemetry indicating that the Forward Rotation of the spacecraft has started.
“Forward rotation of MOM is essential in order to make the direction of firing opposite to the direction of motion of MOM,” explained ISRO in a Facebook post.
September 24, 07:12 IST: Spacecraft enters eclipse, meaning that it went into the shadow of Mars. The Sun was blocked, but telemetry to Earth was available, as Earth was still in MOM’s line of sight.
September 24, 07:18 IST: The Liquid Apogee Motor is expected to have started firing. Telemetry was instantly not available as it takes radio signals about 12 minutes to reach Earth from the Red Planet.
September 24, 07:24 IST: Spacecraft enters occultation, meaning that Mars comes in between MOM and the Earth, blocking all communication between them.
September 24, 07:30 IST: ISTRAC receives telemetry from MOM, thus confirming that the engine burn of the Liquid Apogee Motor is proceeding as planned.
September 24, 07:42 IST: A post on the Facebook page of ISRO says that the Liquid Apogee Motor is expected to have shut off by now. They have to wait till MOM comes out of occultation, and a further nerve-wracking 12 minutes for signals to be picked up by the Canberra ground station of NASA Deep Space Network.
September 24, 07:50 IST: “Occultation is now behind us! Telemetry must have activated. Allow it another nerve wrecking 12.5 minutes.”
September 24, 08:02 IST: Victory! ISTRAC confirms that MOM has successfully been put into the intended Mars orbit, based on telemetry received from the spacecraft.
For those who wouldn’t mind watching an excruciatingly slow (although not relaxing) documentary of the whole event, take a look at this recording of the live broadcast by State broadcaster, Doordarshan, on the official broadcasting website of ISRO.
It would be worthwhile to note that the Mars Orbiter Mission has been criticised, apparently on the basis that $ 74 million was spent on this mission. Such critics hold their ground by asking what justification is there to spend so much money of an “insignificant mission to another planet”, when half of the population of India doesn’t have a square meal every day?
To those people, let me ask, “How do you justify India spending at least twice that amount just to burn firecrackers during Diwali?” “How do you justify much more money being spent to just make the Hollywood film, Gravity, as Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, had famously made note of in a statement?
What about the applications of the technology developed for this mission? At the end of the day, almost all components of this whole mission came from private contractor or public sector companies in India, the same technology which they are now using for their daily jobs. The technical spin-offs we get from this mission are worthwhile in nation-building, as PM Mr. Modi reiterated in his statement today.
At the end of the day, the mission cost every Indian a mere four rupees! I don’t think Indians are so selfish not to sacrifice their evening tea of a day for this historic leap into space.
I end by quoting Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi:
“Mars now has a MOM. And I know that MOM never despairs.”
The fringes of a metropolitan city is hardly the place where you should expect the presence of a fisherman, conventionally speaking. Well, if you live where I do, you’d be aware this place is an exception.
Every morning I leave for school, I notice an elderly fisherman getting the fish off his net. Where does he get the fish from?
Well, there is an extremely shallow stream a stone’s throw from my home, so shallow that you cannot even ride a boat out there properly! The water at the most is knee-deep (at most of the places, it isn’t).
This stream is an outlet from the East Kolkata Wetlands, a set of natural and artificial marshlands, as the name implies, lying on the eastern fringes of the city. Being originally devised by fishermen for pisciculture, the EKW has proved to be an ecological asset for the city.
Most of the city’s sewage is dumped into EKW, and its fascinating ecosystem treats the water. When it comes out, the water meets international standards for human use (not consumption). That is not to mention its other qualities.
Needless to say, this stream coming out from there would be treated freshwater, overflowing with nutrients. No doubt it is an extremely lucrative habitat for small fish to survive.
Therefore, business here is equally lucrative for this fisherman. I’ll bet he makes good money out of selling his catch in the local market.
I always wanted to see him at work. I eventually did, as depicted here, albeit when he was packing up after work. And yes, he seems to be the only fisherman in this area.
Honestly, this is one of the clearest views of the sky I’ve ever got recently. I was seriously stunned after I finished the post-processing on this one.
If you haven’t yet known, let me make it known to you that I literally “resurrect my images from the dead” with my post-processing.
Very few astrophotographers, which unfortunately includes me too, have the “fortune” of living in an area with horrific light pollution, moderate at best.
I pointed the camera almost straight up, and yet you can see the horrible pinkish glow of LP that has crept into the image, even after post-processing. I simply can’t help it, from the location from where I took this.
Yet, this is one of the most detailed and clear images in my collection of astrophotography done from home! Imagine my situation.
Regardless of whether you are aware of it, let me inform you that I am horrific with identifying summer constellations. Yes, “horrific” is the word for it. So here’s the annotated version.
Now’s the time for swallowing the “bitter pill”.
Date: July 26, 2014
Time: 20:14 IST (14:44 UTC)
Model: Sony NEX-3
Focal Length: 18 mm
Focal Ratio: f/3.5
Exposure Time: 30 seconds
Dark Frames: 3; at 30 seconds, 20 seconds and 10 seconds exposure
Bias Frames: 3; at 1/10 second, 1/20 second and 1/30 second exposure
Histogram Stretching: Adobe Photoshop
Final Touches: Adobe Lightroom
Oh, and I’ve just realised, this was one of those photos which often pile up in a horrific backlog! Thanks to my fantastic shortage of time of coming online over the past few days.
Sitar, sarod, tabla, sarangi, raga…: today, they are common words ever in the Western Society. All that concerns with Indian classical music.
Indian classical music has developed through complex interactions between different groups of people, different in race and culture, throughout the history of India.
It is a tradition in which improvisation is what sets you apart from the rest. The written word is not the order of the day, therefore, it is believed that much classical music has been lost throughout the ages.
Indian classical music, till today, is passed on by the guru (teacher) to the shishya (student).
However, all is not lost. There are many references to musical traditions in historic texts, often with description and detailed, written discussions of classical music.
Classical instruments, such as the sitar, sarod, tabla, sarangi, etc. are generally believed to have fallen into much use during the Early Vedic Age in India. Something of that time that still survives is the raga.
In music, a set of eight notes make an octave. More technically speaking, if note Z is an octave higher than note Y, it means that the frequency of Z is exactly double that of Y.
A raga is like a protocol for music. It lays down a set of rules to be followed while moving up or down the scale, the notes to be played, the notes to be ignored, and so on.
Within the apparently strict-looking framework of a raga lies scope for tremendous improvisation. After all, as I said before, improvisation is what sets you apart from the rest in classical music. Let me give you an example to help understand.
Suppose, a raga says that the only notes that can be played are: C#, D#, E, F, A and B. I can now arrange these notes in whatever sequence I want, by changing their order, repeating them, excluding some, and so on. Here are some examples:
C# A B F
A C# D# C# C# F A B
A B C# D# E A F F B
and so on.
There is one more thing about ragas that is unique. Before moving on further, please make yourself aware that there are countless ragas in Indian classical music, each with its unique style. And something else.
Each raga has an associated mood.
The sole purpose of following a raga while playing an instrument, or singing vocals, is to impart a certain mood in the listener. Only if the listener is engrossed in the mood of the raga, only then can he/she feel the strange, calm feeling that one gets while listening to a raga. I have experienced it myself, and it’s a feeling that’s beyond the power of words to be described.
However, there’s a catch. For that, maybe you should ask the psychologist in the university. He’ll say this.
It is easier to impart a certain mood in a person’s mind at a particular time of the day.
Well, whoever devised the ragas of Indian classical music seemed to be aware of that! Therefore, each raga is meant to be played at a certain time of the day.
On a personal note, I play the sitar. It’s an instrument whose existence is gravely at stake, something I’m not at all pleased about. Having said that, I currently know to play three ragas: Bhairav, Yaman, and Khamaj.
Raga Bhairav is meant to be played in the early morning (6 – 8 am).
Raga Yaman is supposed to be played in the evening (6 – 8 pm).
I have attended quite many concerts of classical music, and the maestros do follow these timings. I have played these two ragas both during the correct time, and also during the incorrect time. The difference is striking.
Also, there are seasons associated with each raga! But that’s a story for another time.
For the past few days, I have been spending quite some time fiddling around with my blog. I’ve made it go through several minor changes. I’ve changed the subtitle of the blog. I’ve updated my profile, the About Me page too. Innovation and improvisation is my watchword.
Nothing remains stagnant with time. I have changed a lot, but the same changes to be reflected in the blog were long overdue. That was just the usual dusting and cleaning. What about improvisation? And innovation? That’s the rule of the day.
To begin with, I have changed the names of the categories from that boring, old outcrop to more witty ones. But is cosmetic change everything?
No. If you’ve been following my blog for a considerable amount of time, you might have realised that I rarely lay down with pen and ink my thoughts and ideas, in this blog. I have now decided, it has been enough of maintaining a business-like, formal outlook. I ought to be more open.
When I started blogging, I intended to make this a platform for science posts. That soon changed to include my photography too.
It is changing again. The new addition? A piece of my mind.
What is the use of keeping my ideas holed up behind a firewall? Does it make sense to hold back my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and opinion within a close circle encircled by an impenetrable rubber blanket?
And that’s not the only reason I’ve changed.Allow me to confess what I’ve often tried to make myself come to terms with.
When I became of age, I thought blogging for me is all about educating other people. I thought social networking is only for my advancement of knowledge. I’ve not realised how wrong I was. I had interest in physics, carried away by the same being the subject of my parents, when I am built for biology.
I, was carried away. By people’s emotions, their beliefs, thoughts, actions, choices in life, behaviour…… That’s the consequence of being an emotional person.
I just wanted to present a bloated image of reputation and self-respect to the world. I had got clues that that is not something desirable, and I had started to amend myself.
A series of revolts leads to Civil War. That’s exactly what is probably happening with me now. I feel like there’s a Civil War raging inside me. A war which continues to challenge my long-held beliefs, interests, and emotions. That’s because I’ve finally found the courage to look deep into my heart. And I’ve realised what I’m made of, what I’m made for.
Being an educator has always been my aspiration, and always will be. Earlier, I believed that was what I am made for. But I was horribly wrong. I realised that there is an insurmountable difference between the quality of my thoughts, ideas, and opinion; versus my other aspirations.
I feared to open up in front of people. I feared backlash. I feared loneliness. That was an emotional outlook. However, times have changed, and so have I.
Today, I have the courage to present myself to the world as I am. Of course, with fear buried deep under my mind.
Anyone who doesn’t have fear isn’t human. Or better to put it, every human has fear. Some confess it, some don’t. The ones who apparently appear “fearless” are the ones who know how to conquer themselves and safely tuck away the fear deep under the ground.
My self, my purpose, my reputation; everything has now become immune. Immune to the fear of what people will say, having seen me taking decisions in life.
Earlier, I feared to trail the path less taken, although that was what I vehemently wanted to. Today, my sense of self is such that I will go by whichever path I believe would be beneficial for me, my mind, and my wishes. The fact that I have taken the decision today to make my mind public on this blog just reflects that.
Perhaps, my disillusioned sense of self was due to the fact that no one made me realise how much importance I should attach to myself, how unique I am.
Of the past 14 years of my life, the recent two years has been that storm that changes the course of a ship driven by the wind.
Influential people have entered my life, and have completely changed the way I look at myself, and also the way I look, feel and perceive the world.
To these people, whom I do not wish to name (since the long list would only bore you), are the ones who changed my life. They changed my destiny. They changed the purpose of my life. For what I am today, I owe a lot to them.
That’s precisely why I have opened a new category for blog posts today: The Pen and Ink. A category under which all my ideas, thoughts, beliefs, intuitions, opinions….. are collected.
Being your true self naturally leads to opposition. From other people. Well, there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my short stay of fourteen years on Earth.
Whenever people around you make a superfluous din, which is unjustified whichever way you try to look at it; it means that you are on the right track.
All that I’ve spoken so far is only applicable if you have a proper conscience, which has been tuned precisely to differentiate the thin line between what is right and what is wrong. And an intellectual conscience never lies.
That’s what gives me the confidence to speak out, and stand by what I want to. Because I know, my conscience will never lead me astray. But whether I listen to my conscience, that’s another story.
May 23, 2014: this lone blogger is alone at home, apparently jobless (although I realised later, I had much to do). Boredom is what I utterly hate the most. What do I do? Get hold of the camera, and start photography.
However, due to some reason, even photography did not press upon my boredom that day.
What I needed was something different. But what? I was doing some street photography in long exposure, so that I can make the viewer feel that the cars and people on the road are moving by making them blurred. Suddenly, I asked myself: Why not do it the other way round?
People go about doing their work in this world at their own unrelenting, steady pace. Most of the “outsiders” are too are forced to admit themselves to that group.
I have evidence of one such person who did not get carried away by this steadfast pace of the world, undaunted.
I cannot say I was not pleased with this first try! I had tried this long time ago when I had seen my dad shooting during a sports event, but was unsuccessful. You know, I’m feeling bad now. Why didn’t I try this earlier?
Of course, I was overjoyed. My frustration disappeared. Excitement overcame it. Why not take some more of these? That’s precisely what I did.
I noticed this man rushing home, with his son apparently acting as the driver, being seated in the front.
This reminds me of something. While going to school, I had often noticed a boy, presumably in Class 5 or 6 by his looks, riding a bike through congested traffic, with his dad seated at the back, with his hands on his legs.
I haven’t seen that occur recently. Why? The best speculation would be that law enforcement handed them down a heavy infraction. Although, that’s just a speculation.
Indians are apparently characteristically lethargic in their work towards the end of their work. And speed doesn’t have a limit when it’s time to go home.
Well, this gentleman portrayed it all: the image of the Republic of India.
You have seen cars, buses, and trucks speeding, right? Well, in India, you generally don’t get an infraction from law enforcement for speeding on a bicycle.
This guy seemed to take extreme advantage of that fact? Seriously, was he thinking he’s in a race track, trying to break the sound barrier?
Lots of racing, indeed. Just one evening in the balcony, trying to take motion focus photos, made me realize how much”speeding” takes placeright under my very nose, every day.
In the USA, trailer trucks are a common sight, right? Well, unfortunately, in India it is not so. Our roads are much too bumpy for a smooth ride for a trailer truck. Nevertheless, at least in my locality, there is absolutely no shortage of excavators.
I always thought, and was well-knowledged to reason that driving an excavator is not child’s play. Just as an example, to steer it left you turn the steering right, and vice-versa. There are several other complications.
This ace of a driver seriously put into question the legitimacy of such a belief. True, drivers in India are aces, thanks to the “stupendous” condition of the roads, but I doubt all are like the one behind the wheel of this!
This project was really a learning experience for me.I have finally accomplished what I always dreamed of. However, along with it came problems.
Take a close look at the date when the images were taken, and you would understand the tremendous backlog I’m faced with right now!
My small brother, he is 9. Believe me, he is one of the naughtiest boys round here (not to speak about my “sophisticated” mischief).
It has now become a rule of thumb that there will be a dispute between the both of us at least once every day.It has become a protocol 🙂
Notwithstanding his mischievousness, he can sometimes be completely different.One look at this image will convince you about what I’m speaking of.
See that cold look on his face? That’s the cold, calculated look that he gives whenever he is extremely preoccupied with some task. In this case, it is playing Rail Rush on that Lumia phone.
I personally find this type of cold and calculated look odd, probably because I’m absolutely used to disputes with him.
He will never pay any attention to you, even if you poke or make fun of him, when he gives this look. It’s a silent reminder, which goes like, “Do Not Disturb, You Won’t Get Anything.” This is one of his hidden qualities, albeit hs naughty nature: when he starts something, he’ll stick around till the end.Children will be naughty, they should be.
He has a friend, one whom he describes with his own mouth to be his “best friend”. A guy known as Jishnu, who too is no less.
The only difference is thatpeople think that he gives less trouble than my bro, Ribhu. Let me tell you, the truth is that unlike Ribhu, Jishnu is mischievous.He does all the mischief behind people’s back (not to speak of myself).
You know, some people have their own, unique, and often disturbing way of identifying themselves. Jishnu is one of them who identify themselves with irritating characteristics.
The most typical times when he likes to visit our house is when people least expect outsiders. Like when you’re having lunch, enjoying an afternoon siesta…….get the idea, right?
Why? To play with my brother, of course. You’d expect them to play something like table tennis, cricket, or football, being children, right? I have evidence to the contrary of your stereotypical expectations. They join in together to build models using LEGO Bricks, play computer games, play as Secret Agents to the President, etc.
In case you’re wondering how the scene looks, here’s a peek.
Besides, that Jishnu especially loves to mess with me in the afternoon, more so when I am enjoying a siesta. To tell the truth, I don’t get much sleep in the afternoon, and when I do, there’s good reason for it.
Hindustan Motors, or HM, was founded in 1942 at Port Okha, Gujarat. However, in 1948, operations were moved to a place known as Uttarpara, situated in the Hooghly District of the Indian state West Bengal.
It was founded in 1942 by B.M. Birla.
HM is currently continuing operations at its Uttarpara Plant. The same place where the famous HM Ambassador is produced.
HM is one of the only automobile manufacturers in India. However, its Uttarpara Plant was the first, and currently the only integrated automobile factory in India.
HM has been known to have a close technical collaboration with the Japanese automobile manufacturer, Mitsubishi Motors.
Undoubtedly the most famous creation of Hindustan Motors is the Ambassador, which is widely used as a taxi, and as official government vehicles.
The Hindustan Ambassador
The Amby itself is based on a British car dating to 1954, the Morris Oxford.
Despite its British origin, the Ambassador is a car totally manufactured in India. It is tagged as the definitive Indian car, and is often called “The King of the Indians Roads”.
Any why should it be not? The Amby is used by almost all elite government officials. Ranging for the Prime Minister, the President, and Defence Ministry, to the Personal Secretary of a state’s Chief Minister.
This is a familiar sight of Indian roads. In 2013, it was rated as the world’s best taxi by BBC.
When HM rebuilt the Morris Oxford III in India after production was stopped in Britain, it was built for Indian roads.
Many are aware what I mean by “Indian” roads. An average “Indian road” is as good as the ‘torture track’ that every new automobile has to drive through during its very first test drive!
Uneven Road Surface, potholes, and dogs and cows running through streets are characteristic of many Indian roads. Some roads are as good as mud tracts. It’s better to trek there than to walk on foot!
The Amby was designed to survive all these. It has a high ground clearance, and has repeatedly been praised by the Defence Ministry for its superb off-road performance.
And taxi drivers are all praise for it, many of whom only bother to put it in for maintenance as regularly as they change their toothbrush!
How long do people use a single toothbrush? Around 2 to 3 years! Doctor uncle says, “Change it every six months.” I bet he doesn’t himself!
Comfort is the cornerstone of the Amby.I have been on many car models, even on luxury cars, but I’ve not found the seats in any more comfortable than those of the Amby!
Low maintenance cost, superb off-road performance, built for Indian road conditions, best-in-class comfort: it’s all a power-packed punch.Get you that in any other car? No. It’s dependable, and has huge leg space, along with a full boot to pack up.
A real multi-purpose car!
That’s what has kept the Amby alive. It was banned in 2011 for failing to meet Indian emission standards (which are, BTW, one of the most lenient in the world). However, it soon overcame that hurdle with R&D, and the Amby is back onto the streets.
Despite having undergone hundreds of internal changes in the dashboard, engine, power steering, disc brakes, and the like, the exterior structure of the Amby still mirrors the Morris Oxford III.
Like many other things, this is an “Indianized” artifact of British history left back in India,that has become the identity of the country.
After all, an Ambassador with a red beacon on top has been the ultimate symbol of power in India for decades.