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‘Mars within India’s reach’

Red planet Nasa scientist says India, like China, will succeed in developing manned spacecraft, Vanita Srivastava reports.
Hindustan Times | By Vanita Srivastava, Kolkata
UPDATED ON JAN 02, 2013 11:09 PM IST

Like China, India will be able to develop manned spaceflight, says Amitabha Ghosh, an Indian scientist who was a part of the Nasa team that had identified the landing site of the Curiosity rover on Mars.

“Indian Space Research Organisation(Isro) had announced its plans to develop a manned spaceflight programme. I do not know what the present status is, but I feel that India will be able to develop this capability,” Dr Ghosh told HT.

“I’m also optimistic that the Indian mission to Mars will be successful. I am a strong believer in being positive,” said Dr Ghosh who is the chair of the science operations working group at Nasa Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

Conceding that it was difficult to conclude that life can exist on Mars he said, “We have multiple missions exploring Mars. Its a matter of serendipity when we will stumble upon hard evidence of life (there). We might never find any evidence of past or present life on Mars ever, but, this might not necessarily mean that life never existed on Mars. It might simply mean that either we looked at the wrong places or that the defining evidence, that would have resolved this question, has been destroyed with time.”

Explaining Nasa’s long-term roadmap for human exploration of Mars, he said it was likely that this will not happen in this decade, but, in my opinion, it will definitely happen by 2050. “It should be realised that going to Mars is much harder than travelling to the Moon.”

Dr Ghosh said attracting the best talent to the field of space exploration was the biggest challenge for India. “A very important driver in technology development is the ability of a country to attract the best global talent. Space exploration remains a priority at the central government level; the budget has doubled in less than 10 years.”

Acknowledging that exploration of the solar system is at a slow pace, Ghosh said there have been many missions in the last 30 years.

“But if there was a business rationale to go to space, like for example, asteroid mining, the pace of exploration might have been faster.”

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