Parul Sharma

JNU professor to start work on new project

NEW DELHI: A member of the Jawaharlal Nehru University faculty here will soon start work on a brand new project as principal investigator to develop an instrument that could help in improving an early warning system on changes in earth’s environment.

Prof. S. Mukherjee of JNU’s School of Environmental Sciences is being funded by the Asian Office of Aerospace Research in Japan to start the project on “Influence of sun and other cosmic factors on the environment of earth”.

The project, which has also been technically approved by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US, will develop an instrument to detect cosmic rays. The variation data of these rays will be used to improve upon the existing early warning systems to understand the changes in global climate, including rainfall, snowfall and global warming.

The instrument, which should be ready by 2009-end, will also help in understanding the direct relationship between changes within the sun and global warming and its implications in water resource management.

Under the agreement with the Japanese organisation, Prof. Mukherjee will install a new particle detector to monitor various species of secondary cosmic rays with different energy thresholds at JNU to investigate detailed simulation of the traversal of cosmic rays through atmosphere and precise calculation of the detector response function in association with terrestrial and extra-terrestrial remotely sensed data. The grant was received by JNU in December and the one-year project -- that can be extended for another year – got under way last month.

The project will also be one of 12 locations worldwide for Space Environmental Viewing and Analysis Networking (SEVAN) to develop a global model in order to analyse why the intensity of cosmic rays is more at some places and less at others.

“JNU is one of the 12 locations for that. By 2010, all SEVAN locations will be functional. This will be useful to understand the changes in the space environment and its co-relation with the earth’s environment. We will be able to predict the effects of climatic changes like rainfall and thundershower in tropical areas and snowfall in high altitudes in a more accurate manner. There will be an online exchange of all the data emanating from all these centres," explained Prof. Mukherjee.

Prof. Mukherjee, who is an expert on remote sensing in geo-sciences and also a visiting professor on water resources at the University of Liverpool, was invited by NASA last year to present a paper in Germany on “The influence of sun and other cosmic factors on the environment of the earth”.

About ten years ago, Prof. Mukherjee had proposed a hypothesis that there was a relationship between earth-directed coronal mass ejections of the sun and triggering of earthquakes in active fault zones of the world.