11 October 2014

Ticket to Mars!

Delta IV Heavy. Image from Wikipedia
This would probably count as one of the silly things I've done, but did it anyway just for the fun of it. I've entered my name as one of the names which gets sent to Mars in a microchip inside the multi-purpose crew vehicle on the Orion Delta IV heavy rocket.
It's first going to be part of a test flight starting at Cape Canaveral, Florida on December 4th 2014, going for two orbits around the earth, re-entering the earth at 8900 m/s, reaching temperatures of 2200 degree Celcius and landing in the Pacific Ocean near California. The microchip will be carried during the test flight and during the actual launch in late 2017.

You can register too, and get your boarding pass before Halloween (October 31st). This is the beautifully designed website.

and the boarding pass you'll get:

Be aware though, of the terms and conditions when submitting your name. I ran it through EULAlyzer, and it came up with two small cautionary sentences.

Be careful not to share sensitive personal details. Your details will be captured by www.icontact.com who are also said to be bound by the same terms and conditions that you agree to, but why give them the information in the first place? Your IP address, which browser and OS you use will also be captured.
So I decided not to give my full name.

Orion is a manned spacecraft (can carry 0 or 6 astronauts) being built by Lockheed martin. It's got a diameter of just 5m, so that's a rather tiny space for the astronauts to be in :)

Image from Wikipedia
 Although the test will be done with the Delta IV rocket, the actual launch on December 17th, 2017 will happen with the Space Launch System. A single launch costs more than Rs.30620000000. Imagine the cost in 2017.

Four astronauts would travel in the spacecraft which is designed for a maximum active crew time of 21 days. It also supports a 6 month quiescent (a state or period of inactivity or dormancy) time during which life support would be provided by the Deep Space Habitat (which allows a crew to live and work for upto a year in space).


Our own spacecraft which is already at Mars, has been taking pictures of Mars.

Image copyright: ISRO

You can view the fruits of the hard-work of our distinguished scientists who made our nation proud once again, on this website.

A project that cost Rs.4286800000, the Mangalyaan is capable of:
  • Measuring the deuterium/hydrogen ratio (which gives an estimate into the amount of water loss into outer space)
  • Measuring the amount of methane in the atmosphere with a methane sensor.
  • Study ions during gas or liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and in this case used to examine the neutral composition of particles in the exosphere with a quadrupole mass analyser.
  • Measure temperature, emissivity, composition and mineralogy of the Mars surface with a thermal infrared imaging spectrometer.
  • Take pictures with a colour camera.
Mangalyaan communicates with the Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu, a village at Ramanagara district (where Sholay was shot), that's just an hour's drive from Bangalore. 

Hope it won't be long before Mankind starts getting boarding passes to take themselves to Mars. Who knows...you might not even need a boarding pass. Someone might invent teleportation by then! :-)

Remember Neil Armstrong's "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" (click the link to listen to the historic dialogue). I wonder what dialogues the astronauts would be preparing, for their first step on Mars. Who would get to take the first historic step?

Wait and watch...

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