Lunar Orbiter vs. Weather Radar

Yesterday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched a lunar orbiter and hopes to play a much bigger role in outer-space exploration.

But here is the thing.  A successful space program has to do two things:  (a) advance the science (b) advance technological capability.

The scientific benefits of a lunar mission are iffy at best.  A manned mission to the moon is even iffier.

Technology-wise, ISRO has never been able to carry skills and know-how over to other projects.   For decades now, they have been trying to develop a decent Doppler radar.  The quality of the radar they have is still laughable.   I remember looking (offline) at cyclone Ogni as it traveled south to north.  When the cyclone was south of Chennai, it was captured on a Gematronics radar in Chenna; towards the end of its life-cycle, it was captured by the ISRO radar in Sriharikota.  And in between, both radars captured it. The difference in qualitybetween the two radars was stark.

So, when the Indian meteorological department decided to install a network of Doppler radars, they had to buy the radars from China (the Chinese are using a 20-year old US design).

So, this whole lunar orbiter thing is totally pointless. ISRO needs to first learn how to migrate their know-how.  It's less sexy than launching spacecraft, but more useful to the country that funds their work.

1 comment:

  1. While you may have a point I feel the timing may not be appropriate. The Moon mission is truly a remarkable achievement and ISRO and its hard working scientists deserve nothing but encomiums at this point in time. Honestly my 2 cents.