NASA’s Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) payload, Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter Camera (LRO-C) released news early morning on December 3, 2019 that they had located wreckage of Vikram, the lander on India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission. The post credited the find to a Chennai based techie, Shanmuga Subramanian.
Shanmuga located the wreckage by comparing images released by LRO-C on September 26 (but taken on September 17) with the ones released earlier. He alerted NASA and ISRO about his find via Twitter. NASA’s LROC team then imaged the area again in October and November to confirm the debris. He got no response from ISRO as per news reports.
On the next day, ISRO’s Chairman in a statement to the press said that they had already located the lander on the day after the crash. ISRO’s statements from the period said that while the lander was located, efforts were on to establish communication with it. NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) continued efforts to hail Vikram after the crash.
As a scientific organisation, ISRO should know that until they publish, they cannot claim a discovery. The Chairman’s reference to the statement published on the ISRO website only says that they have located the lander. LROC’s success here is locating the debris and publishing the same with image data.
Media reports then claimed that the lander was intact. This was based on a statement received from someone within ISRO. I don’t think news organisations would publish something like this without an inside source. This points to the fact that ISRO did not know the condition in which the Lander was in.
The text released with the LROC image states that the lander wreckage is found 750 meters from the landing site. In Parliament, ISRO submitted a report stating that Vikram hard landed within 500 meters from the designated landing site. This is an aberration. Sankaranarayanan Viswanathan analysed NASA’s own orbital data and released it on Reddit that the site maybe 520 meters from the designated landing site. This seems closer to ISRO’s report than the LROC team’s finding.
This is a nice finish for the articles I write on the Chandrayaan 2 lander, the last of which you can find here. This allows scientists to study the debris to understand Vikram’s last few minutes on the Moon that could help scientists better design Chandrayaan 3’s lander.
I do hope ISRO proactively releases information like this and encourage citizen scientists like Shanmuga. We need more not less of this.
I’ve written hereearlier about Cal Newport and his book, Digital Minimalism. The book calls for lower if not zero use of social media. In the post, he shares an article published in The Atlantic, titled, “The Dark Psychology of Social Networks.” by Jonathan Haidt and Tobias Rose-Stockwell.
Whereas Newport suggests zero to no social media use, Haidt and Rose-Stockwell call for regulation on the part of social media companies. Newport thinks this is highly unlikely as this implies a direct hit at their bottom line.
I love this particular paragraph from Newport’s blog post that succintly summarises Digital Minalism on how social media design changed and how it affects our response:
In Digital Minimalism, I argued that our relationship with social media was transformed when the major platforms updated their designs to make these services less about checking on other peoples’ status, and more about checking incoming “social approval indicators,” which arrive in the form of likes, retweets, shares, hearts, streaks and tags.
The knack of our species lies in our capacity to transmit our accumulated knowledge down the generations. The slowest among us can, in a few hours, pick up ideas that it took a few rare geniuses a lifetime to acquire.
Yet what is distinctive is just how selective we are about the topics we deem it possible to educate ourselvesin. Our energies are overwhelmingly directed toward material, scientific, and technical subjects and away from psychological and emotional ones. Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness. We devote inordinate hours to learning about tectonic plates and cloud formations, and relatively few fathoming shame and rage.
The assumption is that emotional insight might be either unnecessary or in essence unteachable, lying beyond reason or method, an unreproducible phenomenon best abandoned to individual instinct and intuition. We are left to find our own path around our unfeasibly complicated minds — a move as striking (and as wise) as suggesting that each generation should rediscover the laws of physics by themselves.
While writing the article I discovered the orphaned Wikipedia page that was once updated with launches of Indian remote sensing satellites. The article had not been updated for a very long time. The focus now seems to be on the List of Indian satellites launched by the decade. Working on the article helped me get back into Wikipedia editing and helped me discover one of the points that I raised in the article.
Seth Godin had an interesting podcast on the enemy of the free market. He says that capitalism is the enemy of the free market. He discusses how he comes to that conclusion, provides examples and discusses how Free Market can escape from it’s enemy.
This has been an important learning for my own economic learning that has gone from supporting communism at age 17 to now the free markets at age 33.
Karthik S writes about Jio’s intention of charging it’s customers for a call to another network. I agree with Karthik’s solution that there are better ways to charge the customer. The hassle may have me move operators.
VM has been prolifically blogging the past few days. In this piece, he reviews the book about Pakistan’s first Nobel laureate and physicist, Abdus Salam. The book traces his work as he fumbles to make a mark in Pakistan’s history and is denied it because of his religious identity. I love VM’s observation on how he could have been Pakistan’s Abdul Kalam.