Reading fog data from INSAT 3DR

INSAT-3DR satellite in a clean room, with its solar panel deployed, ahead of launch in August 2016. Credit: ISRO

At 7.57 am today, the India Meteorological Department's Twitter handle posted this lovely image of fog over North India on January 21, as captured by the INSAT 3DR satellite. However, it didn't bother explaining what the colours meant or how the satellite captured this information. So I dug a little. https://twitter.com/Indiametdept/status/1352080311102828546 At the bottom right…

Being on the NSI podcast

Narayan Prasad, the CEO of SatSearch, hosts a popular podcast called NewSpace India. Every episode, he hosts one person and they talk about something related to the Indian and international space programmes. I was the guest for the episode published January 17, available to listen here (on transistor.fm), in which NP and I discussed India's…

The virtues and vices of reestablishing contact with Vikram

An artist's impression of the Vikram lander after completing its lunar touchdown, extending a ramp to let the Pragyan rover out. Credit: ISRO

There was a PTI report yesterday that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is still trying to reestablish contact with the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. The lander had crashed onto the lunar surface on September 7 instead of touching down. The incident severed its communications link with ISRO ground control, leaving the…

The mission that was 110% successful

Caution: Satire. On October 2, Kailash S., the chairman of the Indian Wonderful Research Organisation (IWRO), announced that the Moonyaan mission had become a 110% success. At an impromptu press conference organised inside the offices of India Day Before Yesterday, he said that the orbiter was performing exceptionally well and that a focus on its secondary…

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…

Discovering Vikram Sarabhai

Vikram A. Sarabhai (left), chairman of ISRO, and NASA administrator Thomas Paine sign an agreement in September 1969. Photo: NASA

I just read through a collection of Vikram Sarabhai's important speeches and papers compiled by members of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, to pick a suitable portion to excerpt on the occasion of Sarabhai's birth centenary tomorrow. There was one portion I would have loved to publish but it belonged to a larger text…

An award that isn’t

Were you looking for the full picture? Credit: ISRO + Snorpey

ISRO just put out a call for a one-time space journalism award, named for Vikram Sarabhai, with a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. Here's the doc with all the details. Pay attention to (4), where it says submissions will be judged on the basis of "articles/success stories": In other words (and especially in the…

Why covering ISRO is a pain

A GSLV Mk III glitching near the launchpad. Credit: ISRO

The following is a bulleted list of reasons why covering developments on the Indian spaceflight programme can be nerve-wracking. ISRO does not have a media engagement policy that lays out when it will communicate information to journalists and how, so there is seldom a guarantee of correctness when reporting developing eventsISRO's updates themselves are haphazard:…

Firstpost’s selfish journalism

I'm sure you've heard of the concept of false balance, which is based on the conviction that there are two sides to every story even when there aren't or when it's not clear to anyone what the other side is. I'm also sure you're aware of how journalism based on false balance can legitimise fake…

Why are we going to the Moon again?

At 2:51 am on July 15, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its Chandrayaan 2 mission on board a GSLV Mk III rocket from its spaceport in Sriharikota. The rocket will place its payload, the orbiter, in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. Over the next 16 days, the orbiter will raise its…

Solutions looking for problems

There’s been a glut of ‘science projects’ that seem to be divorced from their non-technical aspects even when the latter are equally, if not more, important – or maybe it is just a case of these problems always having been around but this author not being able to unsee it these days. An example that…

The ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’ of R&D

ISRO's Moon rover, which will move around the lunar surface come September (if all goes well), will live and and die in a span of 14 days because that's how long the lithium-ion cells it's equipped with can survive the -160º C-nights at the Moon's south pole, among other reasons. This here illustrates an easily…