As ISRO’s scientists prepare themselves for a landmark-making launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on November 5, their counterparts in NASA, the U.S. space agency, have extended their good wishes for the mission by sending them some ‘lucky peanuts’.
The good wishes were posted on ISRO’s eight-day-old MOM Facebook page.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), which has posted the wishes, adds that eating peanuts while launching a big mission has become a tradition for its scientists since the early 1960s.
NASA had successively failed in the launch of its first six Ranger lunar probes, but succeeded in the seventh attempt. When Ranger-7 was launched in 1964, someone in mission control was eating peanuts and passing them around at the time of critical stage of the Ranger-7’s flight. The mission clicked and the credit went to the peanuts.
Ever since then, JPL scientists always bring along jars of roasted peanuts to the control room during launches.
And now, NASA has shared its ‘lucky peanuts’ with ISRO: “good luck peanuts from NASA to ISRO!” says the JPL post.
“Go MOM, dare mighty things,” JPL egged ISRO scientists. “Prepare for your launch to Mars, do not forget one of the few but important actions: pass around the peanuts.” The motif ‘dare mighty things’ is also pasted on the NASA jars.
On the practice of handing over peanuts, the JPL post explains: “...it has been a long-standing tradition to hand out peanuts whenever we do anything important, like land on Mars. We use all the luck we can get!”
The ISRO Mars mission, which joined Facebook on October 22 as part of its public outreach plan, has received more than 10,000 likes within a week.
The Facebook connect is the first of ISRO’s public interfaces about MOM. ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan recently told The Hindu , “We want to bring this mission to the people of this country. They should live with us during the entire mission period.”
For the Mars mission, ISRO, he had said, would continue the efforts through the Internet, “not by sensation but with constant, relevant information for the interested community.”