Transitioning to a distinct STEM field requires a deep understanding of one’s strengths and passion. Read further to find more about the journey of Dr Vishnu Viswanathan, a Research Scientist at NASA!

I am a research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and my current research focuses on:

1. The analysis of tracking data such as laser, radio, and images to understand the interior structure and dynamics of planetary bodies.

2. The analysis of orbital and rotational dynamics using gravity and topography data.

3. Development of planetary and lunar ephemerides.

A typical day involves making progress on at least one of the above activities, which could mean reading research articles, bouncing off research ideas, coding, writing, and reviewing articles and proposals. The most challenging part is to find the right balance…

Looking back at the busy year, through the lens of astronomy. From mysterious monoliths to crewed spaceflights, 2020 in a nutshell.

To rewind means to replay the reel. Was 2020 a year to relive? Most of us certainly don’t want to. Despite things being pretty disheartening on Earth, the world of astronomy and astrophysics seems to have had a good year, overall. From making a clean sweep of the Nobel Prize in Physics, to the world’s first private spacecraft docking with the ISS, read on to Rewind 2020 and see what space has in store for you.

On a Falcon 9 rocket, at 3:22 p.m. EDT May 30, the Crew Dragon accelerated its two passengers (Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley) to…

Exploring the exquisite Dark matter, water on the moon and much more...

There are truths which one can see only when it’s dark.

– Isaac Bashevis Singer

Developments in space exploration have been on a substantial rise even though most of 2020 was spent in our homes. Over the past months, we saw several exciting breakthroughs: like the discovery of Moon’s magnetic crust, another step towards unraveling the Dark Matter mystery, and even substantial development in the Gravitational Waves Research.

This edition of Rewind covers a multitude of topics from the novel experiment proposed for detecting dark matter to the Nobel prize in Physics, 2020. …

Unraveling dark energy, OSIRIS-REx mission update, NASA at home, and more

“There are billions of places out there that we know nothing about. The fact that we know nothing about them excites me, and I want to go out and find about them. And that’s what Science is”

— Brian Cox

Poster by Harshinee Murali

As we step on to the pre-penultimate month of 2020, it’s worth spending time in introspecting on the various developments in space exploration that happened in September — a month dedicated to the Roman God of Fire.

September had us asking some very interesting questions like if there was life on Venus, or if a planet (and life on it)…

Going backpacking across the inner Solar System. Where can we pitch our tents?

Poster made by ATOTMYR (Sahil) and Nacho Sirius

Life. Let’s talk about life. To a scientist, life is that which can breathe, move, grow or reproduce. We can think of several exceptions to these at once, but laypeople will agree on what it vaguely means to be “living”. Before we go any further, this article is not of a metaphysical bent. We won’t talk about the purpose of life and other grandiose musings. Instead, let’s speak of survival, of the fastest way to get that which we deem indispensable, of how to find food, water, air, shelter and aid during a crisis, and of how to do it…

We at Nakshatra recently had the opportunity to get in touch with Dr Natalie Hinkel, Senior Research Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio and Co-Investigator for the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS) research network at Arizona State University. Specialising in the study of elemental compositions of Sun-like stars and how they affect the planets formed around them, she was a treasure trove for information regarding planetary physics. We hope you have as enlightening an experience as we did, with her responses to our many questions.

Dr Natalie Hinkel

We are honored to get this opportunity! Seeing you enthusiastically guiding budding…

The threshold to spring and wistful nostalgia, this April was a month that was beautiful not merely Earth-wise, but celestially, too. From the iconic black hole image that made headlines to rainfall on the Sun (yes, you saw that right), read on to find more about the fascinating happenings in the world (or rather, the universe?) of astrophysics that took place over the past one month.

Top News

The Sun is probably the last place in the solar system where you would expect it to rain, and this is not anything ordinary. It’s perhaps one of those times the plasma in the…

The following short story by Chahat Khanna is the first-place winning entry of the ‘Celestia — Tales From Beyond’ short story writing competition held by Nakshatra as a part of World Asteroid Day. Read on!

(Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

He stared out of the small round window, lost in thought. The only thing visible for miles was the overwhelming darkness of the void which he should have been used to but wasn't. He had always found it depressing. The emptiness, the darkness. The feeling that should he ever leave this piece of rock floating around in the ocean of nothingness, he would be lost forever. Sucked into the darkness. That felt more like a black hole to him than the things they were taught about in class. Being squeezed into a state of non-existence in less than a nanosecond…

The following short story by Renga Prasad is the second-place winning entry of the ‘Celestia — Tales From Beyond’ short story writing competition held by Nakshatra as a part of World Asteroid Day. Read on!

(Image courtesy: NASA)

The SS Deckard lumbered carefully through the asteroid belt, loosely pointed towards the origin of the location signal. The ship’s navigation AI had plotted a visible course through the space rubble with an ETA of three hours, and now the ship made its progress patiently, bit by bit. The engines thrummed on and off, propelling the colossal vessel ever so slightly away from each asteroid on the path. Kayden found something irritating about the way the ship adjusted course, combined with the sensation of vertigo he got from the gravitational fields of the passing asteroids. …

Back-to Back Eclipses, Meteor Showers and More!

Man has always found answers to his question of existence while looking up to the overwhelming universe. Every aspect of the society has been influenced by the cosmos. Let’s start with a small story:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson decide to go on a camping trip. After dinner and a bottle of wine, they lay down for the night, and slept. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend.

“Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson replied, “I see millions of stars.”

“What does that tell you?”

Watson pondered for a minute.

Nakshatra NITT

A student-run university-wide organization for sparking awareness and fascination in astronomy. Interested contributors can contact us by email.

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