Onwards and Upwards
From being the first Asian country to orbit Mars to exploring the Moon's South Pole, India leads space exploration
India's most recent achievement in space is the launch of 'Chandrayaan-2', a satellite and rover that was launched July 22, to reach the Moon's South Pole. Chandrayaan-2 comprises of an orbiter, a soft lander and a rover in order to study the lunar surface at the South Pole to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon by looking at its topography and mineralogy.
The goal is to help expand India's footprint in space, and inspire future scientists and engineers to progress forward in space exploration. The launch is monumental as it is the fourth nation in the world to launch a rover to space, and is the first nation to explore untouched areas of the Moon, including the South Pole.
The expected landing date is September 6, after orbiting around the moon and sending information about the lunar surface. Scientists at ISRO hope to use this technology for future missions, including sending rovers to touch down on the surface of Mars or asteroids, and a hopeful spacecraft to Venus.
Though India had not been at the forefront of the space race in earlier decades, the country has come forward in recent years and surprised the international community. Despite having smaller budgets and limited resources, ISRO has managed to stun the international space community with its innovation in reusing existing technologies, simple solutions, and diligent teamwork.
Another incredible Indian achievement is the Mars Orbiter Mission, or 'Mangalyaan'. This is seen as a huge success because India is the fourth country to send a probe to orbit Mars, and the first nation to do so successfully on the first try! Furthermore, India has managed to produce this space probe in under Rs450 crore, whereas NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) cost Rs4,166 crore.
Scientists at ISRO used technology that had already been tested before, which saved costs on testing them again, as they knew the limits they were working with. ISRO was also able to work quickly, creating a functional and efficient Mars orbiter in a little over a year. Starting September 2012, they were able to successfully launch the probe in November 2013, placing India among the handful of nations that have sent probes to Mars.
This inspired the film, Mission Mangal, starring Akshay Kumar, Vidya Balan, Taapsee Pannu, Nithya Menon, Kirthi Kulhari, Sonakshi Sinha, and Sharman Joshi. Director Jagan Shakthi showcased the importance of films centred on ISRO's achievements in order to help motivate future generations to join the space agency.
Scheduled for release on Independence Day, on the heels of the Chandrayaan-2 launch, the director hopes that this film will inspire viewers and show them the struggles and obstacles of creating such a probe. Rather than focus on one single individual, the whole team is highlighted to show the teamwork and effort required in such projects.