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How We Are Reaching For The Moon

29/05/2015 8:29 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Moon on April 8th, 2011 E-P1 on a William Optics ZS80 (0.8x reducer/flattener, 2x extender making for the odd 768mm focal length) And welcome to the visitors from photofacts. Thank you for clicking through, here are 3 key details to how this picture was created. 1. Camera and lens/scope stability. Very stable 'tripod', actually, an EQ5 telescope mount. That is some 15kg of metal providing a lot of stability and dampening. Additionally I use a wired remote trigger to prevent having to touch the camera/telescope. Also using mirror lockup (DSLR) or enabling a short delay before re-opening the shutter (mirrorless cameras, called anti-shock on my Olympus PEN) is a good idea. If your camera has in-body image stabilization, disable it. 2. Focus. The small telescope that I often use has a very nice dual speed Crayford focuser which allows for very accurate focus. Also, I make use of the 'live view' function of my camera to obtain a high level of magnification (14x) to help during focusing. 3. Exposure, black point and gamma Expose for not blowing the hilights, as those are small and tend to be mostly ignored by your camera's metering. In post processing, move up the black point to ensure your sky stays nicely black, and use the gamma curve to bring out the surface details (generally means making the gamma curve somewhat steeper)

Just a few months ago, I listened intently as Freeman Dyson, the famous theoretical physicist and mathematician, said that, "If you want to have a programme for moving out into the universe, you have to think in centuries, not decades." A few months later, Team Indus was born and we dreamed of proving Dyson wrong, delivering best-in-class technology to defy odds. As part of the Google Lunar XPrize, we've launched a mission to safely land a spacecraft, able to travel at least 500m, on the surface of the moon, and transmit HD video and images back to earth - all by December 2016!

It's an ambitious goal but we all share a passion and enthusiasm to make this a reality. We're an eclectic group of people who came together -- a former Air Force pilot, a management guru, a branding expert who is also a turnaround honcho, a serial entrepreneur and an aerospace engineer. As disparate as we may be on paper, we are bound by our sheer passion and determination to succeed in this project. We're an unconventional alliance of dreamers and explorers and we will not stop until we reach the moon. And we intend to redefine the parameters of private enterprise while we're at it.

That being said, the process to date has not been without its challenges. At times the contest has seemed like street fighting! The rules are not clearly defined, skill alone is not enough to win, and the chances of survival are low. However, it's the fast-paced and extreme environment that has propelled us forward, pushing us to our limits and stretching the boundaries of what we thought was possible.

Some of the best moments for the team so far have included receiving our first independent technology review, securing investment, and partnering with Tata Communications, who will deliver mission critical communications services to take us to the moon and back - from a Content Delivery Network (CDN) solution, to web hosting and flight path big data analytics.

However, for me personally, one single moment truly stands out as a moment of truth or I should say a moment of inspiration. We chanced an opportunity, when we first came to Bangalore, to meet with Dr. Kasturirangan (former ISRO Chairman and Rajya Sabha member) and surreal as it felt, we were discussing our mission with one of the greatest scientific minds of our country, someone who was responsible for putting India on the space map of the world. He believed in it, believed in us. Having him as a mentor and guide has enhanced our ability to progress faster and validates our self belief.

We want to extend the boundary of innovation and inspire a whole new generation of dreamers - not just in India, but across the world. It's this that drives us to keep pushing forward. As a team, we've steered clear of being dazzled by the "wow factor" and scale of the mission and amazingly, stayed grounded - focusing on solving the problem at hand. The ultimate dream is to lead India into the next generation of space exploration and in my next blog I'll be talking about the important role of communications in enabling us to do just this...

*Together with Tata Communications as Team Indus's official communications partner, Rahul and his team are working out the big moving pieces for the next Moonshot.

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