Space exploration is one sector that every country is investing in. The organizations like NASA, ISRO, and other organizations are constantly collaborating to explore the unknown space and find answers to curious questions that are important for mankind to know.
Dr. Bhavya Lal, Chief of Staff (Acting), NASA in an exclusive interview with All India Radio talked about the achievements, future projects, and possible avenues of cooperation between India & the USA, and the rest of the world in the field of space. According to Dr. Bhavya Lal, space exploration is important for the success of humanity and it helps in improving life on Earth.
As the acting chief of staff, Dr. Bhavya Lal is responsible for the day-to-day operations at NASA’s headquarters and is working towards shaping the strategic direction of the space agency.
Significance of NASA’s Ingenuity robotic helicopter success on Mars
NASA’s Ingenuity robotic helicopter was sent to Mars in an attempt to try a flight on another planet’s surface. The helicopter aimed to hover for roughly 30 seconds, swivel, and come back down. And NASA was able to do that and with this, they achieved a significant milestone in space engineering.
Dr. Bhavya Lal elaborated and explained the challenges that have been overcome to achieve the milestone. She explained that “Ingenuity was the first controlled flight ever on another planet and it’s a total feat of engineering, what engineers did was shrink the size & the mass and work with very specialized material to demonstrate flight in a thin atmosphere. And again as some of you may know, Mars’ thin atmosphere makes it difficult to achieve enough flight as the atmosphere is 99% less dense than that of the Earth”
Blades of Ingenuity robotic helicopter spins about 2,400 revolutions/minute
The robotic helicopter was made light enough to be lifted in the thin atmosphere of Mars. To generate the lift, rotor blades were made much larger and much faster. To generate enough lift for a 30-sec flight, the helicopter blades were made to spin about 2,400 revolutions/minute. To put things into perceptive, the same helicopter to fly on Earth would require about 400 revolutions/minute.
“The balance was between having a light enough system and having enough energy not only to lift the helicopter off the ground but also to keep it warm enough to perform in mars extremely cold climate. So it was a technology demonstration, we didn’t know if it would succeed but we know it did and not only did we fly that one time, since then ingenuity has been flying longer and higher flights and it’s a resounding success by any measure” said Dr. Bhavya Lal on the success of the mission.”
NASA’s Artemis Mission to put first woman astronaut on Moon
Neil Armstrong’s most famous statement when he landed on the Moon was that “one small step for man but a giant leap for mankind”. But now NASA’s Artemis mission seeks to take another giant leap for all of humanity by carrying the first woman astronaut to the Moon.
Dr. Bhavya Lal added, “our goal 50 years ago was to prove that humans could land on the Moon and return safely to Earth as President Kennedy said. This time our goal is to return to the Moon in a sustainable way to get insight to bring back lessons that will help propel us into a greater exploration that has never been done before.”
She also elaborated that the mission is the first step in the next era of human exploration. All the necessary work is going on and Dr. Bhavya Lal is very excited to be a part of the mission.
ISRO and NASA are currently collaborating on the NISAR project
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a collaboration between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch the radar imaging satellite.
Explaining the mission, Dr. Bhavya Lal said, “It’s the collaboration between NASA and ISRO. It’s joint Earth observing mission between our two agencies and each of us NASA and ISRO are providing separate radars that are optimized in their ways to allow the mission to observe a wide range of changes that either one could do alone”.
She also elaborated that it is NASA’s largest collaboration internationally and the mission will improve our understanding of key impacts of climate change, advance our knowledge of natural hazards and enable many applications for societal benefits. The satellite will provide a wide range of information that can be useful in significant developments across the world.