Twinkle Twinkle Scientists Star
   26-Jul-2019
Two Assam Scientists have made the state proud by being the reason behind the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2
Dhruva Saikia
 
 
Two scientiests from Assam who were part of Chandrayaan-2 have made the state proud 
 
In the assembly of science icons of the country who are credited with successful launch of India’s momentous moon mission Chandrayaan II on July 22, 2019, two from Assam, Dr J N Goswami and Dr D K Das, have carved a respectable niche for themselves on the occasion and their feat is indeed a source of immense joy, pleasure and pride for the entire northeast. If facebook is the mirror of the popular trend, then the two Assam scientists are at par with all other sports, film or political stars in the horizon. People love, admire and recognize them, because these two are the people countrymen aspire to look upto.
 
Chandrayaan programme, or the Indian Lunar Exploration Programme, is an ongoing series of outer space missions by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Former Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the project on 15 August 2003, in course of his Independence Day speech after the idea was first mooted in 1999 during a meeting of the Indian Academy of Sciences. The Astronautical Society of India carried forward the idea in 2000. Soon after, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) set up the National Lunar Mission Task Force which concluded that ISRO has the technical expertise to carry out an Indian mission to the Moon. In April 2003 over 100 eminent Indian scientists in the fields of planetary and space sciences, Earth sciences, physics, chemistry, astronomy, astrophysics and engineering and communication sciences discussed and approved the Task Force recommendation to launch an Indian probe to the Moon. Six months later, in November, the Union government gave the nod for the mission. So, the two scientists from Assam, Dr. Goswami and Dr Das, figure in such an elite assemblage of celebrated scientists.
 
Who are they? Let us briefly review the available biographical data of the two Science Stars from the northeast.  

 
Dr J N Goswami was the principal scientist in India’s moon mission and chairman of the advisory board for Chandrayana-2 
 
Dr J N Goswami was the principal scientist in India’s moon mission and currently chairman of the advisory board for the follow up mission Chandrayana 2. Goswami was born on 18 November 1950 in Jorhat, and started schooling there. In 1965, he got 6th position in higher secondary examination conducted by AHSEC, and then he joined prestigious Cotton College to study Physics. He got MSc Degree from Gauhati University and joined Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for PhD. In this time period he also worked as a post-graduate research scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1978, he got PhD degree from Gujarat University.
 
He was the Chief Scientist of Chandrayaan-1, and was also the developer of this project. He served as a director of Physical Research Laboratory situated at Ahmadabad, Gujarat.
 
A remarkable discovery of Goswami is recorded as ‘Goswami’s study of meteoroid grains proved that the sun was 1000 to 10000times stronger 4.5 billion years ago than now.’ Leading periodical India Today, in its profile of leading Indian scientists, noted this feat and quoted the scientist as saying- “the greatest challenge for scientist is to push oneself beyond the limit with available tools and resources.”
 
Wikipedia says about his research work, ‘After PhD, he worked as a research scientist in many prestigious institutes, like UC Berkeley, Washington University, Lunar and Planetary Institute and Max Planck Institute. His main subject of research is study of Solar System and Astrophysics. He and his associate scientists have proven that the main resource of energy of Solar System at the time of its origin was 26Al nuclide in its half life. He has also worked on Cosmic Rays, Tectonic Plates and concluded many theories. From Physical Research Laboratory, he was served as Scientist of exploration projects of ISRO at its preliminary state. He was associate scientist of Cosmic Ray experiment and chief scientist of Lunar Samples at spacecraft Spacelab-3.’
 
And here is the list of awards Goswami has been conferred on so far- Youth Scientist Award by Indian National Science Association (1978), NASA's Public Service Group of Achievement Award (1986), Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award (1994), Kamal Kumari National Award for science and technology (2003) Axford award by Asia Oceania Geoscience Society (2014), Asom Ratna (2015) and Padma Shri in 2017.
 
Gigantic Goswami does not overshadow the other Assam scientist associated with Chandrayaan, Dr Dipak Kumar Das, who, like Goswami is an alumnus of Cotton College. Dr Das is presently the director of Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO. The SAC had a pivotal role in Chandrayaan-2’s successful launch.
 

 
 Dr Dipak Kumar Das is the Director of Space Applications Centre (SAC), ISRO and played a pivotal role in Chandrayaan-2’s successful launch
 
Dr DK Das did his Pre University from Cotton College in 1976-78, then graduated in Electronics Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Banaras Hindu University (BHU) formerly known as IT-BHU.
 
Das started his professional career at Space Applications Centre, ISRO in 1983 in the area of Communication & Navigation Satellite technology. He is a recipient of ISRO-ASI award for the year 2010 for his contribution in the area of Spacecraft and related technologies. He is also a recipient of ISRO Merit Award for the year 2010 and ISRO Performance Excellence Award for the year 2015.  He is also a member of Space Communications and Navigation Committee (SCAN) of International Astronautical Federation (IAF). He is also designated as Chair of ‘Committee on Earth Observation Satellite’ (CEOS) for the year 2020.
 
Facebook post after launch of Chandrayaan says ‘we ,the Cottonians are extremely proud to have ex Cottonian Dipak Kr Das, Director, Space Applications ,ISRO who was in the team that launched Chandrayan 2 yesterday. His achievement with his team has put the country in the big league.’
 
Yes, such achievements put the country as well as the society, in a greater league.