ISRO announced, this afternoon (January 11, 2001), the 12 Indian entries for Student Navigator Programme of Planetary Society, USA.

Students Group

The students are:

Senior Category

1. Abhishek Vijay Thakur, Mumbai
2. Arjun Shankar, Bangalore
3. Avinash Sastry, Bangalore
4. Kautabh Rajeev Mote, Pune
5. Shaleen Rajendra Haralalka, Udaipur
6. Siddharth Chaturvedi, Bangalore
7. Srikanth Sridharan, Bangalore

Junior Category

1. Bhushan Prakash Mahadik, Mumbai
2. S P Kamalayazhini, Pondicherry
3. Sastry Lakshminarayan Vadlamani, Bangalore

Sophomore Category

1. Avinash Chandrashekar, Chennai
2. Harikrishna Ramani, Chennai

The Planetary Society, USA and the LEGO Company, USA, and other sponsors, in cooperation with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), USA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Malin Space Science Systems, USA, is conducting this worldwide competition for selecting ‘Student Navigators’ who will participate in a real exploratory mission of the planet ‘Mars’.

The preliminary selection of the Indian entries was carried out through 16 designated regional centres: Science City at Chennai, Nehru Planetarium at New Delhi, Visvesvaraya Industrial & Technological Museum at Bangalore, Raman Science Centre at Nagpur, Inter University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) at Pune, Nehru Science Centre at Mumbai, Birla Industrial & Technological Museum at Calcutta, Kerala Academy of Sciences at Thriuvananthapuram, Panorama & Science Centre at Kurukshetra, Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Centre at Ahmedabad, and Regional Science Centre at Bhopal, Calicut, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati.

ISRO, the national coordinator for the program, short listed 41 students for the national semifinal. The final 12 students were selected through group discussions and interviews held at ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore on January 10 and 11, 2001. The students were also required to assemble a Rover kept at ISRO Satellite Centre and maneuver the same through remote command. The evaluation of the students was carried out by an expert scientists’ panel led by Prof B V Srikantan, former Director of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. The names of the 12 students were announced at the valedictory function held at ISRO Satellite Centre this afternoon (11.01.2001). Prof U R Rao, Member, Space Commission and former Chairman, ISRO was the Chief Guest and Dr P S Goel, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre presided. The 41 students invited for selection along with their mentors also met Dr Kasturirangan, Chairman, ISRO and other scientists of ISRO in the evening.

Students Group

(From L to R)Abhishek Vijay Thakur, Mumbai,
 Arjun Shankar, Bangalore, Avinash Sastry, Bangalore,  Kautabh Rajeev Mote, Pune,  Shaleen Rajendra Haralalka, Udaipur,  Siddharth Chaturvedi, Bangalore,  Srikanth Sridharan, Bangalore
(From L to R)Sastry Lakshminarayan Vadlamani, Bangalore,  S P Kamalayazhini,Pondicherry,  Bhushan Prakash Mahadik, Mumbai,  Harikrishna Ramani, Chennai,  Avinash Chandrashekar, Chennai

The final selection of the students for the ‘Student Navigators’ will be carried out by the Planetary Society. Once selected, these Student Navigators will explore the simulated landing site terrain on Mars with the state-of-the-art rover program now in development at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, USA. Students everywhere will be able to follow, along with the ‘Student Navigator’ training and reproduce what is taking place even as the ‘Student Navigators’ select a sample to return to earth through the Planetary Society and the LEGO Company’s Red Rover Network.

It may be recalled that the Planetary Society selected three students from India among nine from all over the world as Student Scientists under the Red Rovers Goes to Mars Training Mission announced in November 2000. In all, more than 10,000 students participated in the contest held in India for the Student Scientists and Student Navigator programme.