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Monthly Archives: June 2016


City boy’s space idea takes him to NASA
Sanjay Lakshminarayana
Sanjay will present a paper with a set of plans to explore the outer solar system and beyond
A 20-year-old Bengaluru boy is on his way to Texas to present a paper at the prestigious National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Sanjay Lakshminarayana, a mechanical engineering student, has been selected to present his ideas and attend conventions. These will study important observations made by recent planetary missions and emerging nuclear technologies for space exploration and travel.

The youngster, who has been interested in space since childhood, will present a set of plans to explore the outer solar system and beyond. The ideas will have a significant focus on nuclear systems as enabling technologies.

Sanjay said he would use this opportunity to discuss the knowledge gaps in exploration of extra-terrestrial environments and the most recent discoveries in this area.

The youngster, who also has an interest in car designing, told BM that his background in mechanical engineering provided a base for his interest in space exploration and his consistent research in the area.

Unexpected invite

The meetings on Sanjay’s agenda have been sponsored by NASA and the American Nuclear Society. Speaking on the unexpected invite, Sanjay said, “It was at a meeting in Russia, that a professor from NASA noticed my interest and sent me an invite for this year”.

Commenting on what this opportunity meant for him, he said, “I want to learn a lot about the latest developments and share my ideas with scientists from across the world. I am looking to gain immense knowledge, a sense of direction and meet people who will be able to help me in my research. “

The meetings are scheduled between February 3 and March 16. These will be held at various locations including the Lunar Planetary Institute in Houston. Sanjay has also been invited to present his paper titled “The Magneto-Confined Fusion Ion Thruster” at the 2015 Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS-2015) conference to be held in Albuquerque.

Sanjay’s schedule

1. 2015 Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS-2015) conference, March 23rd-26th, Albuquerque

2.Workshop on Early Solar System Impact Bombardment III, February 4th-6th, Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston.

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Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 11, 2016, 04.00 AM IST
City boy wows with space walk of fame

By: Aparna Ani

Sanjay Lakshminarayana created a model of ISS that houses a working replica of a space suit, and samples of space food

People of Jaipur are in for a real ‘out of the world experience’, thanks to Bengaluru boy Sanjay Lakshmi-narayana. A model of the International Space Station, has been painstakingly created by a group headed by Sanjay, who is a third-year mechanical engineering student at the Rajasthan Institute of Engineering and Technology. The model will open to the public next month.

“It took us six months to create this prototype, which attempts to simulate the space station experience,” says 20-year-old Sanjay who earlier presented a paper at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The model houses a working replica of a space suit, and samples of space food like freeze-dried powders and tubes of semi-liquids, among others. A working model of a space toilet, or a Zero Gravity Toilet as it is called, which is usually used in a weightless environment, is also part of the space station. “These instruments are constructed to educate visitors about conditions within a space station,” says Sanjay, who adds that the model received a very enthusiastic response, especially from children of neighbouring schools who visited the facility on a study tour.

The Sample Laboratory Facility, which will provide a facility for permanent storage of samples from space in a physically secure and non-contaminating environment, is also part of the prototype. Visitors to the station will also get a chance to catch a glimpse of Earth as seen from space.

Being an airtight facility, the model is easy to maintain with periodic vacuum cleaning. The model constructed at a cost of approximately `70,000” was built using recycled raw materials. The project was fully funded by the college says Sanjay, expressing his gratitude to RS Tomar, chairman of the institute. According to Sanjay, the cost of building such a model from the scratch, using new raw ma-terial, would range anywhere between `3-4 lakh.
For his final year project, Sanjay plans to create a model that will simulate the zero gravity experience. Answering a question on whether he has plans to build similar models in Bengaluru, Sanjay says he would be happy if he got such a chance.

“We would need someone to fund the project. If that works out, I would love to build an ISS model in my hometown,” he says.

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M-factor pulls back boy’s space dream
Sanjay Lakshminarayana

Sanjay Lakshminarayana, with four others, bags invite to pitch spacecraft idea in Moscow, but this cook’s son can’t afford itA five-member student team from India has bagged an invite to the Lomonosov Moscow State University, to present its ideas on exploring Europa (satellite of Jupiter) and Titan (satellite of Saturn), besides other trans-Neptune objects (any minor planet in the Solar System that orbits the sun at a greater average distance than Neptune) in an efficient and economical way. The team’s paper will be presented during the 40th assembly of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) an international body which aims to promote research on space to be held from August 2 to 10 in Moscow. COSPAR has already approved the paper, leading to the invite.Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Sanjay Lakshminarayana, 20, a proud member of the mission, said he and his team developed ideas on exploring the moons and the trans-Neptune objects as there’s very little information on them. “Europa and Titan are the best suited among the moons in the solar system to harbour life. Europa has an icy crust and we think there is water underneath where life can exist. In the case of Titan, it contains oceans of hydrocarbons which can be used as a refilling station for inter-planetary and inter-stellar explorations,” he said.”Our paper visualises sending an unmanned spacecraft initially since the rocket boosters are light-weight. We can include more instruments to study both the satellites and also plan for manned as well as unmanned spacecraft to study trans-Neptune objects. In the case of Europa, we can send an unmanned spacecraft which will dig through the surface ice and find if water exists. Titan may be inhabited if sun becomes a red giant (stars that have exhausted the supply of hydrogen in their cores and switched to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen in a shell surrounding the core). As of now, our paper talks of building something similar to the international space station (ISS) around Titan and Europa which will help a lot in inter-stellar and inter-planetary travel. We believe that in the next three to five decades, our technology will be so evolved that we can take inter-planetary missions beyond the solar system.”


Interestingly, Sanjay was selected to the team following his lectures on YouTube named ‘Feynlab Lectures’ . Sanjay says his role model is the late American theoretical physicist Richard Phillips Feynman, a Nobel laureate who helped popularise Physics through his lectures and best-selling two-volume reminiscences.

Hence, he started video recording his Physics lectures and aired them on YouTube. “My videos have been watched in 60 countries and this was when one of my team leaders, Rohan Muralidhar, saw the video and contacted me. He gave me a problem, which I cracked. So I was included in the team,” he said.

While Sanjay relishes intellectual challenges, financial constraints are a tougher nut to crack. Since he stays with his mother, an only parent who works as a cook, Sanjay doesn’t have the resources to head to Moscow. “It is ironical that our paper is about a mission to Titan but I cannot arrange finances for my trip to Russia. It costs around Rs 90,000, including travel fare, visa, and miscellaneous expenses. I may be forced to drop out of this trip if I am unable to arrange the money on time,” he added.

Sanjay may be contacted on ph: 95914 60158.

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