In the past few decades, the space exploration research area has been strongly implemented in the most uninhabited places of the Earth. NASA has been conducting its space research in the confined habitat HERA, Concordia station in the Antarctic established by ESA has been operational for 15 years now and similarly, there are a few more analog space research stations by private companies like the Mars Desert Research Station. It is a very common prejudice that to explore space one must travel beyond earth but from a point of view of the space industry, the former doesn’t hold entirely true. Today, the space industry relies on detailed testing plans and a well-defined database for various instrument handling. The analog space exploration sites not just provides a platform for on-ground testing but also reduces the error rate for final space ready product by a significant amount. Until now these analog sites have been established mainly in the USA and Europe but the potential demand for space missions started having an impact on some of the developing nations. In my last article, I talked about the growth of the space sector in India, in addition, an Institute in India las laid its foot in the direction of analog space research in collaboration with a few NASA scientists, Australian and European researchers, and various other space research organizations. For the same purposes, they have chosen Ladakh as the most suitable place considering that its geological features could be of interest in future Mars habitat missions.
Recently, I got an opportunity to talk to the head of the Astrobiology Research Department of Amity, who is the backbone of this initiative, and here are a few insights into the roadmap of its implementation.
From a visitor's perspective, Ladakh is nothing but a cold desert with a breathtaking view in the foothills of the Himalayas. However, from the scientist's perspective, it is a reservoir of Nature’s science laboratory. Located at 7000 meters of altitude, the barren lands of Ladakh provide a great source of information in form of geological, technoic, and geographical features from an astrobiology point of view. A few years back NASA along with other space agencies…