“We can do wonders by converting India’s space excellency on land” – Dr M Annadurai

Gandhinagar: The 11th edition of Amalthea, a unique student-driven annual technical summit of the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), organised its fifth webinar today with Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, Project Director of Chandrayaan-I & II and Programme Director of the Mangalyaan Mission, who is also popularly known as the Moon Man of India.

Dr M Annadurai delivered a talk on “Space to Earth: Legacy of Challenges and Opportunities”. Beginning his talk, Dr Annadurai explained how space is a cycle of challenges and opportunities; it gives you challenges that you have to convert into opportunities. He also gave a brief background of mankind’s journey to the space and the evolution of the Indian Space Programme, starting from experiments in the 60s and 70s to use of Indian satellites for various purposes like communication, weather forecasting, navigation, and remote sensing, to launching of many successful missions including Chandrayaan-I, Mars Orbiter Mission, and bulk satellite launches in one go.

Talking about the future path of Indian Space Programme with regard to satellite manufacturing, and advanced research & development activities, Dr Annadurai said, “Indian will play a meaningful role for the international space arena. India is showing the way to the emerging countries that are coming in the space. Even though ISRO had a very modest beginning in the 70s and 80s, we (India) now have one of the best infrastructures when it comes to space technology. Our infrastructure is second to none in the world, and that is our legacy.”

He also talked about current space assets of India and how Indian satellite system is being used for societal applications like Agriculture, Water Management, Communication, Navigation, Meteorology Disaster Management, Health and Education, among others. Dr Annadurai also explained what India did differently with the Chandrayaan-I mission. While other countries ‘landed on the Moon and searched for water’, India rephrased the same problem and targeted to ‘search for water and land on the Moon’, and hence we discovered water on the Moon for the first time in a much lesser budget than other countries. Thereafter, Dr Annadurai shared the experience and challenges of connecting a satellite to the Mars in through Mangalyaan Mission and becoming the first country to do so in the first attempt; that too with minimum energy transfers opportunities (once in 26 months), a very tight schedule, and limited budget.

Dr Annadurai went on to share how he’s applying his experience to develop a culture of science & technology as the Vice President of Tamilnadu State Council for Science and Technology. He gave examples of two of their projects in which they are using technology for societal needs, 1) Under Drone Corporation of Tamilnadu, people have started using drones for various purposes like pest spraying for agriculture, city survey, traffic management, mining etc., 2) Under the ‘Banana Waste to Wealth’ project, technology is enabling to use every part of a banana tree to produce useful products like banana fibre, useful agricultural chemical etc.

Concluding his talk with encouraging words for the youth of this country, Dr M Annadurai said, “India has different Islands of Excellence through space like Education, Agriculture, Healthcare, Research, and Industry. India has a huge amount of untapped potential that needs to be channelised. Taking the space legacy of the whole of ISRO, converting it into the Indian soil, I think we can do wonders than anybody else can do. The upcoming era of space science and technology is a huge opportunity for the youth with a few thousands of satellites connecting us anywhere on the earth, and it’s upto you to be ready to take it. And so, younger people should be bubbling with enthusiasm, grab these opportunities, and show the world what India is.”

He also interacted with participants through a virtual Q&A session in the end.

Amalthea is being held online for the first time on the central theme of ‘Connect. Collaborate. Create.’, and it is already creating waves even on virtual platforms. So far, the event has received a total of about 2000 participants from various prestigious institutes and colleges from all over the country and the world through registrations in various online events/contests, webinars, and workshops. More events are lined up for January, like D’Code- a competitive coding contest, Cryptix- a Jeopardy-style capture the flag event/ information security competition, and Icon- an innovative ideation conference where students can pitch their exceptional ideas/innovations in front of industrialists and the world. The total prize pool of all the upcoming events in January is more than Rs 1 lakh!

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