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Mission Red Planet: Curiosity Rover Landing On Martian Surface Soon

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By Mmrityunjay Nanda:

From the dawn of the mankind, no other planet in our solar system captivated the imaginations like the Red Planet. Scientists have been contemplating if Mars might be nurturing life and is even home to intelligent beings. But we have been able to see Mars so clearly only from past several decades. It all started with Mars 1M, a soviet mission, destroyed in a launch failure on October 10, 1960 and it was not the end. After Mars 1M, Mars 2M, Sputnik 22, Mars 1, Sputnik 24 and Mariner 3 consecutively failed to mark their presence. Though endeavors to explore Mars happened from early 1960s, success still appeared to be elusive. All sweat went in vain until Mariner 4 (flyby mode) performed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars followed by Mariner 6 and 7 which were another two successful missions from NASA.

If we look back in to history then we may discover that Mars 1M, Mars 2M, Sputnik 22, Mars 1, Sputnik 24, Mariner 3, Zond 2, Mars 1969A, Mars 1969B, Mariner 8, Cosmos 419, Mars 4, Mars 6, Mars 7, Phobos 1, Phobos 2, Mars Observer, Mars 96, Nozomi, Mars Climate Orbiter, Mars Polar Lander, Beagle 2 and, recently in 2011, the Phobos Grunt are nothing but just regrets. Nobody was aware of these problems that we have faced in search of life in the Planet Red. But thanks to great scientists of the world, because of their extraordinary efforts, we witnessed few legendary landings on the dusty surface of the Mars. Amidst several attempts, there were still many that were able to etch their success stories in the book of history.

Since these great accomplishments today we understand Mars as a frozen desert with towering silent volcanoes, deep canyons, polar ice caps, evidence of ancient rivers and vast oceans which indicate a warm but drenched past of the red planet. After shooting the first successful mission, Mariner 4 (flyby mode), into the history, NASA has been establishing many milestones in bridging the gap between Mars and being. And without knowledge we have become an Alien to other part of the universe. But the process of unearthing will evolve and eventually will track down the transformation that will showcase a new way of LIFE. In addition to the Man-Mars voyage, a mighty player is going to enter the league soon. Around hundred days after, Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover will be landing on Martian surface.

Despite of fact that Curiosity had some computer issues, it launched successfully on 26th November 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and expected to land in August 2012 near the foot of a mountain inside Gale Crater. When questioned about the technical problems, Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Manager Richard Cook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif, said “Good detective work on understanding why the reset occurred has yielded a way to prevent it from occurring again and the successful resolution of this problem was the outcome of productive teamwork by engineers at the computer manufacturer and JPL”. If we talk about Curiosity then it is a robot with a pair of bug-eyes swiveling on a stalk nearly 8 feet off the ground, the 6-wheeled, 1800-lb Mars rover Curiosity doesn’t look much like a human being.

Yet, the Mini Cooper sized rover is playing the role of stunt double for NASA astronauts. “Curiosity is riding to Mars in the belly of a spacecraft, where an astronaut would be,” explains Don Hassler of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. “This means the rover experiences deep-space radiation storms in the same way that a real astronaut would.” The interesting part is that Curiosity carries a Lincoln penny to calibrate its Mastcam, a high-definition imager. Conclusively in case of curiosity, the list of capabilities is pretty wide. It may be APXS- the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer instrument, RAD- the Radiation Assessment Detector instrument, CheMin- the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument or SAM- the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument, Curiosity is just a radical in its class. To conclude, we wish Curiosity and her team all the best and luck in all her future endeavors and we are eagerly waiting to experience the adventurous but thrilling voyage of MAVEN, the future Mars conqueror, which is scheduled to launch by the end of 2013.

It will be irrational to question Curiosity’s consequences knowing it’s a subject of pushing the limits of engineering, technology and nature. It may be the way of space exploration but each time we try we learn for the next time and all the risk, money and man-power are worth it.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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