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Home > Discover Mumbai > City LifeStyle > Mars Landing

  Young landers on Mars  

Four Mumbai students will be part of a team to determine the perfect landing site on Mars in the Mars Surveyor Mission 2001. They have done their city proud.

For over a month, 10,000 students from all over the country, supported by their parents, spent quality time working towards being part of the Mars Surveyor Mission 2001. Twelve children have been selected after rigorous tests and interview rounds.

Vivek Krishnamurthy Iyer speaks on his Mission to Mars.Four young Mumbai student scientists are part of this 12-children team to determine a perfect landing site on Mars in the 'Mars Surveyor 2001 mission' planned by NASA, scheduled to be launched in April 2001. The children, Vivek Krishnamurthy Iyer from Arya Vidya Mandir, Mihir Ranjan Pathare from Lokandwala Foundation School, Shyam Ajit Kapadia from Bombay International School and Gaurav Mohanty from Kendriya Vidyalaya, INS Hamla have been chosen by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to participate in NASA's Mission. At present, the 12 youngsters are eagerly awaiting their final telephonic interview from NASA headquarters in the USA.

A questionnaire related to space and physics was circulated in various schools all over the country. Around 10,000 children who had answered correctly were selected. The second round was followed with 2000 children writing an essay on Red Rover Goes To Mars. Two hundred of these essays were selected and forwarded to ISRO, out of which 37 students were chosen to make a Power Point presentation on Mars. A list of 12 of the best presenters was forwarded to the Planetary Society, USA.


Gaurav Mohanty's passion is space science and marine life.Thirteen year old Vivek Krishnamurthy, a voracious reader who does not spare even the newspaper wrapping on a Vada Pav says, "I am trying to find solutions to a lot of problems on Mars. Scientists are unable to find enough propellent to get evidence back to earth. I am working on a solution to this problem." Gaurav Mohanty whose passion is space science and marine life explains that the youngsters are part of the project to try out different experiments vital for planning a man mission to Mars. According to him, the children will be part of a seven day camp at the NASA base in America. Those selected will be controlling the Mars Surveyor '96 camera.

Another young enthusiast Mihir Ranjan, who is fascinated with the thought of exploring an alien planet, suggests colonisation on Mars using empty fuel tanks as construction material. Interested in philantrophy, Mihir adds with a touch of humour, "There are two things I am good at, Construction and Destruction." His regular study of the Planetary Society's Magazine at Nehru Centre also helped him gear up for the challenge, he says.

These aspiring youngsters either want to develop into computer engineers or astronauts. The project not only gives them better understanding of space and planets, but also has worked positively in bringing parents and children together. Says Mihir, "I would not be part of this project if it was not for my mother and brother who helped me all through the process." Vivek Krishnamurthy's mother, who has been his guiding force, is almost as enthusiastic as her son, and shares his love for knowledge.

Today, as parents and children join forces in this challenging endeavour, success cannot be attributed to just the mission on Mars, but also the creation of a strong family bonding.

Anupama Vinayak
Photographer: Vinayak Prabhu

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