‘Sakaar’ …for ISRO

Minister of State in the Department of Atomic Energy, Dr. Jitendra Singh recently launched an Augmented Reality application named ‘Sakaar’ to highlight the achievements of the Department of Space during one year in office of the present Government.

  • DECU-ISRO has developed this application for Android devices.
  • Sakaar consists of 3D models of MOM, RISAT, rockets (PSLV, GSLV Mk-III); videos of INSAT 3D-predicting cyclones, GSLV D5/Cryo, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) orbit insertion, launch video of MOM, 360 degree animated view of MOM; Anaglyph of Mars surface.
  • The Multimedia content which is embedded in the Sakaar app is generated with the support of multimedia & editing facilities of DECU-ISRO.

What is Augmented Reality (AR)?

  • Augmented Reality is a live direct view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated 3D models, animations, videos etc. The technology enhances user’s current perception of reality.
  • Augmentation is in real time and the information is overlaid on the live view of the device’s camera.
  • Essentially, AR requires three elements: Android device with back camera, AR application, AR Markers.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


Comet probe Philae wakes up

Europe’s tiny robot lab Philae, hurtling through space on the back of a comet, has sent home its first message in nearly seven months. Scientists have said that Philae may soon resume science work, opening up a new chapter in its exhilarating voyage.

  • Philae touched down on the comet on November 12 after an epic 10-year trek piggybacking on Rosetta.


Philae ’​s mission was to land successfully on the surface of a comet, attach itself, and transmit data from the surface about the comet’s composition. It is a robotic European Space Agency lander.
It landed on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, more than ten years after departing Earth.

  • The mission seeks to unlock the long-held secrets of comets — primordial clusters of ice and dust that scientists believe may reveal how the Solar System was formed.
  • The scientific goals of the mission focus on “elemental, isotopic, molecular and mineralogical composition of the cometary material, the characterization of physical properties of the surface and subsurface material, the large-scale structure and the magnetic and plasma environment of the nucleus.”
  • Sensors on the lander will measure the density and thermal properties of the surface, gas analyzers will help detect and identify any complex organic chemicals that might be present, while other tests will measure the magnetic field and interaction between the comet and solar wind.
  • Philae is equipped with an array of experiments to photograph and test the surface of Comet 67P as well as to find out what happens when the roasting effect of the sun drives off gas and dust.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, http://static.guim.co.uk/.

Curiosity on new journey on Mars

Unable to reach a comparable geological contact farther south on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has now approached an alternative site for investigating a geological boundary. Curiosity has been exploring on Mars since 2012.

Curiosity Rover:NASA’s-Curiosity-Rover-

  • Curiosity is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL).
  • The rover’s goals include: investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale Crater has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for future human exploration.
  • On June 24, 2014, Curiosity completed a Martian year—687 Earth days—after finding that Mars once had environmental conditions favorable for microbial life.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.


Two indigenously-developed Astra missiles were successfully launched from a Su-30 MKI fighter jet at Chandipur in Odisha recently.

ASTRA missile


  • It is the indigenously developed Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air
  • It is an all-weather, state-of-the-art missile developed by DRDO and can engage and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed (1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach) in head-on (up to 80 km) and tail-chase (up to 20 km) modes.
  • The 3.8 metre tall Astra is a radar homing missile and the smallest of the DRDO-developed missiles and can be launched from different altitudes.
  • It can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km, 44 km when launched from an altitude of eight km and 21 km when fired from sea level.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

India’s eye on universe ready for tests

Scheduled to be launched later this year, ASTROSAT, the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying distant celestial objects is now fully assembled.


  • Astrosat is India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite and is scheduled to launch on board the PSLV in October 2015.
  • ASTROSAT would be India’s first multiwavelength astronomy satellite. It will facilitate simultaneous observations of celestial bodies and cosmic sources in X-ray and UV spectral bands.
  • It will be placed in a 650-km (400 miles) orbit with an 8° inclination for spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, supernova remnants, quasars, pulsars, galaxy clusters and active galactic nuclei at a number of different wavelengths simultaneously, from the ultraviolet band to energetic x-rays.

India's Astrosat

Astrosat will be a proposal-driven general purpose observatory, with main scientific focus on:

  • Simultaneous multi-wavelength monitoring of intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources
  • Monitoring the X-ray sky for new transients
  • Sky surveys in the hard X-ray and UV bands
  • Broadband spectroscopic studies of X-ray binaries, AGN, SNRs, clusters of galaxies and stellar coronae
  • Studies of periodic and non-periodic variability of X-ray sources

Other details:

  • It is significant to note that ASTROSAT is the first mission to be operated as a space observatory by ISRO.
  • ASTROSAT carries four X-ray payloads, one UV telescope and a charge particle monitor.

The mission will put India in an elite orbit with the U.S., Europe, Russia and Japan.

Sources: The Hindu, astrosat, ISRO.

Dust storm in Rajasthan

A severe dust storm swept across North India recently injuring many and damaging several houses in Rajasthan.

Dust storm:

A dust storm or sand storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions.

  • Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another.

Dust Storms in India


  • As the force of wind passing over loosely held particles increases, particles of sand first start to vibrate, then to saltate. As they repeatedly strike the ground, they loosen and break off smaller particles of dust which then begin to travel in suspension. At wind speeds above that which causes the smallest to suspend, there will be a population of dust grains moving by a range of mechanisms: suspension, saltation and creep.
  • Particles become loosely held mainly due to drought or arid conditions, and varied wind causes.
  • In desert areas, dust storms are most commonly caused by either thunderstorm outflows, or by strong pressure gradients which cause an increase in wind velocity over a wide area. The vertical extent of the dust or sand that is raised is largely determined by the stability of the atmosphere above the ground as well as by the weight of the particulates.
  • Drought and wind contribute to the emergence of dust storms, as do poor farming and grazing practices by exposing the dust and sand to the wind.

Why now in Rajasthan?

  • According to Skymet Meteorology Division in India, a low level cyclonic circulation over Pakistan and adjoining Rajasthan region along with high day temperatures had triggered the dust storm.
  • West Rajasthan becomes prone to such dust storms as it enters into the pre-monsoon season. This was the first widespread storm of the season covering a large area. The winds are usually westerlies due to which the dust storms travel a long way.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, BS, IMD.

Goce gravity boost to geothermal hunt

The hunt for sources of geothermal energy is getting a boost from new observations of the Earth made from space. The data comes from Europe’s Goce satellite. It mapped Earths gravity field from 2009 to 2013 at high resolution.

How data collected from satellite will help?

  • Information about variations in gravity across the planet could help prospectors find promising locations where sub-surface heat can be exploited to generate electricity.
  • This keen sensing is expected to narrow the search for prime spots to put future power stations.
  • Goce’s maps are expected to shortcut some of the effort by pinpointing regions of the world with the best characteristics, such as where the continental crust is at its thinnest.
  • By processing Goce’s data in special ways, scientists can also tease out details of the different rock layers and structures within the Earth.

Although a large potential resource, geothermal currently accounts for less than 1% of the world’s electricity generation. Part of that comes down to the huge costs of exploration.

GOCE satellite:

The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) was the first of European Space Agency’s Living Planet Programme satellites intended to map in unprecedented detail the Earth’s gravity field.

  • The spacecraft’s primary instrumentation is a highly sensitive gravity gradiometer consisting of three pairs of accelerometers which measures gravitational gradients along three orthogonal axes.

Why was the Satellite launched?

  • To determine gravity-field anomalies with an accuracy of 10−5 m·s−2 (1 mGal). To increase resolution, the satellite flew in an unusually low orbit.
  • To determine the geoid with an accuracy of 1–2 cm.
  • To achieve the above at a spatial resolution better than 100 km.

The final gravity map and model of the geoid will provide users worldwide with well-defined data product that will lead to:

  • A better understanding of the physics of the Earth’s interior to gain new insights into the geodynamics associated with the lithosphere, mantle composition and rheology, uplift and subduction processes.
  • A better understanding of the ocean currents and heat transport.
  • A global height-reference system, which can serve as a reference surface for the study of topographic processes and sea-level change.
  • Better estimates of the thickness of polar ice-sheets and their movement.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.