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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

Life and Universe

Coming, a futuristic astronomical observatory in Rajasthan
Hema Rawat, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 25, 2013
First Published: 20:48 IST(25/10/2013)
Last Updated: 21:11 IST(25/10/2013)
Astroport is one of the darkest spots in India, a place from where the night sky is clearly visible. (Photo credit: SPACE)

School-children across the country have a reason to cheer. Come 2014, they can work, observe, learn celestial objects and other astronomical concepts at an observatory and research centre called Astroport that is located in Sariska, Rajasthan.

Created by the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), the initiative would include a  Live Mars Simulation Programme to be conducted on a surface similar to that of the Red Planet.

“It will bring real life scenarios and challenges for students, transforming them into astronauts and mission specialists to Mars. It aims to help them understand the ecology of Mars and simulate the  real-life experience of finding and probing life on the planet,” said SPACE CEO Amit Verma.
 
Right from planning to execution, the programme will be organised on the lines of the real-time simulated exercise that involved the Mars rover of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

“Participants working in specialised teams will manage mission planning, aerial surveillance, rocketry, landing a space rover, and remotely control a rover as it probes the simulated surface of Mars. It will be followed by a mission de-brief (synopsis) and distribution of certificates and mission batches to students,” Verma added.
 
The initiative is aimed at honing the skills of the aspiring astronomers to explore and identify potential habitation in other planets.
 
Besides the Astroport, SPACE also announced plans to launch another programme in the 2014-15 academic session, during which students would be helped to develop digital planetariums at their respective schools.

“It is an enhanced way of digital learning in which students can showcase their talent and later on create their own creative versions of celestial objects,” said Verma. Unlike conventional planetariums or analogue versions, the digital planetarium will be portable.


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