An out-of-the world experience for students

Published - February 08, 2017 01:22 am IST - CHENNAI:

For students of Hindustan International School, Guindy, Tuesday was a red-letter day. Ken Johnston, one of the four civilian astronaut consultant pilots from the Apollo Moon Programme was amongst them, at their seminar on ‘Experience Space through Experts’. He was joined by Shaun Moss, director of Mars Society Australia, and creator and administrator of the Mars Settlement Research Organisation (MSRO) group on Facebook.

While they spoke about the challenges of space settlement, they also answered a variety of questions ranging from dark matter and dark history, time travel, existence of life in other planets and the multi-verse posed by excited students.

“The gravity in Mars is 38%, so if you weigh 100 kg you’ll feel a lot lighter there, it’ll be easy for you to play basketball there,” said Shan while answering one of the very curious students. One of them asked the guests about the reality of a multi-verse, to which Ken quipped and said, “You will really have to help us find that out.”

The question and answer round with the students went on for an hour. “It is amazing to know so many of you are interested to know about space. Just keep the spirit going and follow your dreams,” said Ken.

Mr. Ken also spoke about the Mars Summit 2017, which will be held in Bengaluru later this month and said that it will be a good platform to discuss about space development and exploration.

“The aim of this summit is to bring together countries and young minds on one platform and examine issues related to Mars and space exploration challenges,” said Jayakumar Venkatesan, technical chairman of the summit and chairman and CEO of Valles Marineris private limited, a firm which works in interplanetary research.

Tech for farmers

Earlier on Saturday, Mr. Johnston interacted with students at an event organised by Space Kidz India —‘I4 India-Ignite, Inspire, Invent, Innovate for India’.

21-year-old Kuruva Sriramalu from Pulivendula in Andhra Pradesh came up with a mobile-based system that will aid farmers in agriculture and it has fetched him an opportunity to go the to Moscow Aviation Institute, Russia, for a workshop. Three months ago, Space Kidz India invited projects for a technology innovation challenge. His project was chosen the winner from 400 entries across the country.

Mr. Sriramulu, a third-year student of B.Tech from JNTUA College of Engineering, Pulivendula, said this system would allow farmers to have real time information about their fields using mobile-based technology. He has developed a prototype which would allow farmers to know the level of water/moisture in the field. “Farmers have been grappling with various problems; this is my humble attempt to help them and a dedication to my late father Anjaneya,” he added.

Srimathy Kesan of Space Kidz India said they had received fascinating projects from students. “The idea was make for India. We want to tap the potential of students and see how far they can go; we were thrilled to see the results. The top 10 students will receive internships from organisations like ISRO and DRDO,” she said.

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