After Chandrayaan's successful launch, I unfolded my 3 foot
1960s Rand McNally Moon map, taped the crumbling folds, and
mounted on a wall, as a reminder of doing so for Apollo 11.
I postit-marked the Chandrayaan-3 landing site
( 69.367621 S, 32.348126 E ) and also the Luna 25 planned
I removed the Luna 25 postit, and won't mark its crash
debris field location, too sad. I hope to someday remove
a few postits about V.V.P,, whose primitive Stalin-like
"leadership" is the ultimate cause of the Luna 25 loss.
As I write this, the Chandrayaan-3 lander is safe on the
Moon. The long department head speeches (in English,
after a >10 minute mostly-but-not-all Hindi speech by
P.M. Modi) and the cheering mission control teams are
going on and on and on ... shaving into two brief weeks
of exploration, sigh.
The department heads and the hundreds of people in mission
control are clearly Nerds Like Us, saris and accents aside.
These Are OUR People, Our Pocket Protector and Plaid Shirt
and High Water Pants brothers and sisters whooping it up.
I whooped it up myself; nerds need no audience.
It's now 7am PDT here in Oregon, youtube coverage is over.
I expect the India-immigrant-engineers at Intel, a few
miles away, are already back at work creating billions of
lines of code and patterns for the next monster CPUs.
Imperfect software crashed Chandrayaan-2, and has crashed
far-more-expensive CPU designs at Intel and elsewhere.
My guess is that software quality techniques learned from
this mission will be more important to human progress than
the limited data this simple lander will provide. Software
will enable far more sophisticated lander SYSTEMS soon,
perhaps vast swarms of tiny 100-gram sensor-laden rovers.
India's lander is tiny compared to those of other nations,
but miniaturization makes those tiny landers far more
productive than the multi-ton monsters of the past. This
mission will only last two weeks, until the end of the
lunar day at 32E, but in that time I expect Chandrayaan-3
to collect more scientific data than all of the Apollo
astronauts. No earth-return samples, that comes later.
However, today we can put a very sophisticated lab on a
milligram chip; in a decade, there will be a steady flow
of lab chips to the Moon, and terabytes-per-second of
measurement data returning to data relay stations in LEO.
The biggest show off Earth.
Hint for futurists - a watt-second is 4e19 bytes at room
temperature. Using that conversion factor, compare your
electric bill to your internet connection bill, and tell me
which business the space power community should aim for.
A decade from now, half the people I saw celebrating on
my computer screen will be hired by Intel at huge salaries,
and some will be my new neighbors. I will learn more about
this and subsequent ISRO missions from them in person,
over our dinner table.
Software aside, Chandrayaan's few and simple instruments
may answer a few important questions about water ice near
at 69S on the Moon. I expect we will learn "all that
contains hydrogen is not necessarily ice", instead
hydrated minerals with vastly lower vapor pressure.
THAT said, some of those mineral discoveries, minerals
unlike anything on the air-and-water-drenched Earth, may
teach us trillion-dollar secrets about solid state physics,
enabling new kinds of gynormous-scale, "weird physics"
integrated circuits. My dinner companions will explain
to me how their lunar research led to "just add hydrogen"
peta-processors at Intel.
Keith Lofstrom kei...@keithl.com