KOCHI: Toning down expectations of re-establishing contact with Chandrayaan-3’s rover Pragyan and lander Vikram, which have gone into sleep mode on September 2, ISRO chairman S Somanath said on Saturday, “there’s a possibility, but there’s no certainty”.
He was speaking after receiving the Vikram Sarabhai Vigyan Puraskar instituted by the Kochi-based Vikram Sarabhai Science Foundation (VSSF). Somanath, however, pointed out that India’s third lunar mission’s objective was achieved in 14 days, after which it entered sleep mode. One day on the Moon is equivalent to 14 days on Earth.
Somanath, the driving force behind Chandrayaan-3, which etched India’s name on the moon and in the annals of history, also reminisced about his early days at ISRO. “When I first became a part of ISRO, it was during a challenging period for the organisation. I remember being mocked by people while taking the bus, reminding me of our setbacks and failures,” he told a large gathering of students, who assembled at the Vikram Sarabhai Science School, Kakkanad, for the eighth VSSF Science Conclave. To a question on what was the hardest challenge he faced during the Chandrayaan-3 mission, Somanath said the hardest challenge was the soft landing. “There were a lot of factors to be considered to make the landing.”
Many wonder how ISRO, a government entity, operates with such passion and dedication. “Several factors contribute to this. Firstly, the autonomy granted to it plays a pivotal role. Secondly, the organisational structure effectively takes into account the insights of scientists and acts upon them. Lastly, the thrill of witnessing an idea transform from a mere concept to a finalised product is undeniably one of the most satisfying experiences one can have,” the ISRO chief said.
Somanath advised the students to focus on a particular field of study and gain deep knowledge rather than trying to gain knowledge in all fields of science. “An important quality students should have is a good reading habit. They should also have a commitment to society and know what’s happening around them,” Somanath, a native of Alappuzha, said.
He also emphasised the need for reforms in the field of education. “While everyone should receive basic education in science, higher education in this field should be reserved for those who are truly passionate and qualified.,” he said.
Vikram Sarabhai Vigyan Puraskar award comprises a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and a citation, which was handed to Somanath. The event saw virtual participation from G Madhavan Nair, a former ISRO chairman. Other dignitaries included V P Joy, former chief secretary, Indira Rajan, CEO of VSSF, District Collector Umesh N S K, and E Nandhakumar, along with representatives from various entities.