The former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, K. Kasturirangan, on Monday hailed NASA’s feat of successfully landing spacecraft “Curiosity” on Mars, terming the accomplishment mind-boggling and an extraordinary mission.

“It’s an extraordinarily perfect mission of the highest level of complexities undertaken in an unmanned mode. It’s mind-boggling in terms of complexities that NASA has achieved,” he said.

The landing phase was one of the most challenging, he noted.

From the periphery of Mars to touchdown, a host of interactive systems had to function with high level of precision, including the way the propulsion systems operated, keeping control and, at the same time, reducing the velocity.

“All kudos to scientists who have been part of this team. I am also proud that several Indians [of Indian origin] are part of this team in critical positions,” he said, recalling his visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory a couple of years ago when “Curiosity” was getting ready and several Indians (youngsters of Indian origin) were working on it.

“Curiosity” would be looking for embedded signatures on Mars. “...I think it would be able to throw light on precursors, which could be signatures for potential and possible existence of evolution of life on the surface of Mars,” Dr. Kasturirangan said.

“It’s a step forward in exploring life outside the earth and probably important to look for signatures in other environment which for the first time quantify the potential of life elsewhere in the universe.”

Dr. Kasturirangan hoped the mission would answer the fundamental question of how life was formed in the universe and how it evolved.

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