Bhubaneswar, May 9: They asked for the moon and almost got it.
Twenty budding astronomers from the state got an opportunity to visit the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), the country’s premier science facility in Bangalore, from May 1 to 5.
These students had been selected in the annual state-level Young Astronomers Talent Search camp, hosted by Pathani Samanta Planetarium here in collaboration with Tata Steel. The students described their five-day trip as an experience of a lifetime.
“It was a dream come true. Gaining access to places that are out of bounds for common people was a privilege. We met the best brains of the country at Isro. They were very friendly and showed us around,” said Ankita Das, a Class X student of DAV Public School (Pokhariput), Bhubaneswar.
Ishani Das, a Class X student of the Sai International School here, said the most special moment of her trip was visiting the place where the country’s first unmanned moon mission satellite vehicle, Chandrayaan-1, was launched.
“Can you believe we actually got the opportunity to touch the materials which were used to make the satellite?” said Ishani.
On the second day, the 20 little astronomers were taken around the city. They visited the Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu near Bangalore that forms the ground segment for providing deep space support for Chandrayaan-1.
“It was a privilege to meet the scientists, who are working on such a prestigious project and they patiently answered all our queries,” said Charles Devraj, a Class X student from Manibhadra High School, Gopalpur.
Next, they visited the local planetarium, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum, and the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (Istrac)’s multi-mission Spacecraft Control Centre.
“The trip was both enjoyable and educational. The 20 of us used to stay up till late and share our dreams and ideas. I hope I can make proper use of the knowledge I gained in those five days,” said Aniruddha Dasgupta, a Class IX student of St Mary’s School, Barbil in Keonjhar.
Deputy director (Technical) of the Pathani Samanta Planetarium, Subhendu Patnaik said Yats-2011 contest was open to students from Class VIII to X in which more than 1,000 students from all over the state had participated. In the first stage, they were asked to prepare a synopsis on the theme “My dream spacecraft”.
It was followed by the zonal level competitions at Belpahar, Keonjhar, Joda, Jajpur, Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Jeypore. A total of 120 students qualified for the final round, of which the best 20 models were awarded.
“The competition was held for the fourth consecutive time. It is an opportunity for young minds in rural and remote areas of the state to exhibit their talents in the field of astronomy,” Patnaik said.