Space technology important tool for a nation, says Isro chairman

Dr S Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), has said space technology is an important tool that a nation needs for a good command on the scientific front.

Somanath was speaking at the National Science Day celebrations, including the virtual tour of the Vainu Bappu Telescope, Kavalur, organized by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, recently.

“Space technology and rocket science have enabled human beings to send instruments into space lasting for several years. These have helped carry out observations and helped in bettering our understanding of the evolution of our Universe. Space technology is an important tool that a nation needs to have for a good command on the science front,” the Isro chief said.

Though Isro is mandated to carry out space missions of national importance for realizing better communications, satellite networks for defence, weather and other purposes, the space agency also launches dedicated science-based missions.

One such mission was the Astrosat, India’s maiden multi-wavelength space-based observatory launched in and operational since 2015. About 100 scientists from IIA, Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Raman Research Institute, Physical Research Laboratory and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research collaborated for Astrosat. Another scientific mission set to be launched later in 2022 is the Aditya L1 mission to the Sun.

On the agency’s future scientific collaborations, Somanath said, “Isro will offer all the required support and encourage the Indian scientists in realizing their goals for carrying out space observations for astronomy studies, through the payloads hosted by our missions”. He added that the space agency was planning to periodically host more scientific missions and was keen for closer partnerships with other scientific institutions in the country.

According to Dr K Radhakrishnan, former Isro chairman, the challenge before the scientific community is now to envision future scientific goals and build novel scientific instruments.

“To make fundamental new studies in space science, the most important aspect would be to build instruments worth doing futuristic science. The scientific community needs to envision those scientific objectives and the kind of instruments needed to be conceived and built that will provide good and reliable results,” said Radhakrishnan, who had led the successful Mars Orbiter Mission (MoM).

He noted that over 70 per cent of the space economy contributions today came from commercial operations and that India needs to continue its works in order to both retain and advance from its current global position.

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