Straight From The Scientist

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Dr. A. S. Kiran Kumar

On the 9th of May, 2016, Dr A. S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Research Space Research Organization visited the R&D department, DDU during the convocation ceremony. Dr Kiran Kumar is a renowned space scientist who is currently the Secretary, Department of Space and Chairman, Space Commission along with heading the ISRO. He completed his Physics honours and MSc in Electronics from National College of Bangalore University. He pursued M. Tech in Physical Engineering from IISC, Bangalore. He led the team which developed three out of five scientific equipment for the Mars Orbiter Mission Satellite. He is credited with development of key instruments aboard the Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan space crafts. In Chandrayaan-1, he developed the Terrain Mapping Camera and Hyperspectral Imager. He was awarded with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in 2014. DDU Connect got a chance to interview Dr. Kiran Kumar after the Convocation ceremony. Here are some excerpts from the interview:

1)With around 18000 employees and 52 ISRO centres working towards a common goal, being the Chairman how do you manage the efficient working of the whole system?

“Primarily, ISRO is a self-driven institution. ISRO, as an organization has a single end goal. The goal is how to make use of the space technology to deliver to the public. Right from the beginning the people have a goal and work with a sustained motivation. Having said that, you also have a lot of challenges. You need to make sure that you set the right priorities and use all the resources efficiently. Our main aim is to make more launches in a quick succession of time.”

2)How is the hyper spectral imager you are helping to develop for Chandrayaan-2 different from the technology we have been using so far? How important is this technology for remote sensing?

“For example, if you compare a panchromatic image and a multi spectral image, it has multiple broad bands. The human eye has a range of 300nm and the entire range generates one output. Certain object features come out in a particular wavelength. It is like classification. Hyper spectral provides you with large number of distinct entities for characterization. The more the number of characterization you have, you can separate out the classes better.”

3)After all the successful endeavours, how are we prepared as a nation to send man to space?

“At the moment, the human space program is not in the high priority for the government and the organization for two reasons. Firstly, we still need to address a large number of important aspects and the government needs to spend a large amount of money for the human space program. We are trying to do critical technology development. In 2007, we developed the space recovery module and similarly in 2014, we experimented with the crew recovery module. Space suit realization with a company in Vadodara, a capsule which can support living beings and developments in pad abort test are also made.”

4)The Astrosat project has completed more than 100 days in the orbit. What is the scientific impact of this project?

“It is like the astronomer’s telegram. The information is shared with all the astronomers and corroborative work is done. The student community and research community will be given specific time slots for observation and research.”

5)How can the students of DDU take serious part in the space program?

“We will be announcing a mechanism in which academic institutes and industries will be posed with a problem and they have to give solutions. An institute in Mysore has done some original work on micro thermal propulsion system. The 3D mapping of heritage sites has tremendous opportunities for academic institutions and a set of interdisciplinary students can be selected for collecting data and research.”

We thank Dr. A.S. Kiran Kumar for sparing his valuable time and talking with us and also congratulate him for successfully materializing Vikram Sarabhai’s dream and wish him luck for future endeavours.

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