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NASA denies of awarding any internship to Indian teen

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Kolkata: US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) denied the claim of an Indian girl named Sataparna Mukherjee. She had claimed that she is selected for the prestigious Goddard Internship Program (GIP) under the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The girl is still sticking to her stand.

Eighteen-year-old suburban West Bengal resident Sataparna Mukherjee has attested to being the “youngest Indian to have been chosen for a NASA research project”.

The resident of Madhyamgram in North 24 Parganas district claimed in an interview to the agency that the space agency had offered her a full scholarship to pursue graduation, post-graduation, and PhD (as NASA faculty) in aerospace engineering at its “London Astrobiology Centre in Oxford University.”

In an e-mail to the agency, a NASA official clarified: “We have no record of anyone by that name receiving an internship, scholarship or any form of academic or financial assistance from any NASA institute, center or program.”

Further the official highlighted: “The program noted by multiple Indian media outlets does not exist.”

The agency said its NASA GISS education program is the New York City Research Initiative (NYCRI), “where teams of high school and undergraduate students and faculty work alongside graduate students and the lead scientists of NASA-funded research projects at universities within a 50-mile radius of New York City…, or at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) under the mentorship of a GISS scientist.”

NASA said the NYCRI application deadline has just passed and applications for its summer program were currently under review. “Selections have not been made.”

However, an unfazed Mukherjee, who claims she is scheduled to leave for Britain in August, maintains she has the necessary documents to prove her assertions.

Mukherjee had earlier sent a screenshot to the agency of a purported correspondence from the space agency stating “Goddard Internship program as an employee and researcher. Technical writing for NASA’s Applied Earth Science and Technology Development Program.”

Quizzed on NASA’s reaction, Mukherjee said that the agency was issuing denials to maintain confidentiality.

“I have the necessary documents and I can’t send them via mail as I was asked by NASA to maintain confidentiality. I also have my visa. You can come and see them.”

On the widespread media coverage and the interviews she willingly appeared for, the student said she was “forced by media channels” to tell her story.

“Since I am the only Indian selected, I was asked to maintain confidentiality. They (NASA) are denying it now because it’s in the news now.”

Mukherjee has maintained she had posted a paper on NASA’s website on black hole theory which landed her the scholarship. She had also talked about getting through an exam (as one of top three scorers) for doing major in English at the Oxford University. However, even after repeated requests, she failed to provide documentary evidence.

Media reports have quoted Sataparna as saying she verified the authenticity of the NASA website at the Chennai office of the British Council.

However, the British Council termed the claims as “false”.

“British Council would like to refute and condemn false claims as they are baseless and without any premise. As per our records, nobody with this stated identity visited or contacted our office in Chennai,” a British Council official said over e-mail.(IANS)

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NASA Plans To Install An Instrument To Monitor Plant Water Use

The instrument, called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometre Experiment on Space Station

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NASA Plans To Install An Instrument To Monitor Plant Water Use
NASA Plans To Install An Instrument To Monitor Plant Water Use, Flickr

NASA plans to install on the International Space Station (ISS) an instrument that will measure the temperature of plants from space, enabling researchers to determine plant water use and to study how drought conditions affect plant health.

The instrument, called ECOSTRESS, or ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometre Experiment on Space Station, will hitch a ride to the space station on a SpaceX cargo resupply mission scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 29, NASA said on Tuesday.

Plants draw in water from the soil, and as they are heated by the Sun, the water is released through pores on the plants’ leaves through a process called transpiration.

This cools the plant down, much as sweating does in humans. However, if there is not enough water available to the plants, they close their pores to conserve water, causing their temperatures to rise.

Plants use those same pores to take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis — the process they use to turn carbon dioxide and water into the sugar they use as food.

If they continue to experience insufficient water availability, or “water stress,” they eventually starve or overheat, and die.

The data from ECOSTRESS will show these changes in plants’ temperatures, providing insight into their health and water use while there is still time for water managers to correct agricultural water imbalances.

“When a plant is so stressed that it turns brown, its often too late for it to recover,” said Simon Hook, ECOSTRESS principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“But measuring the temperature of the plant lets you see that a plant is stressed before it reaches that point,” Hook said.

Space
Space, Pixabay

These temperature measurements are also considered an early indicator of potential droughts.

When plants in a given area start showing signs of water stress through elevated temperature, an agricultural drought is likely underway.

Having these data in advance gives the agricultural community a chance to prepare and/or respond accordingly, NASA said.

Also read: Woman Sues NASA Over Keeping Moon Dust Gifted to Her by Neil Armstrong

“ECOSTRESS will allow us to monitor rapid changes in crop stress at the field level, enabling earlier and more accurate estimates of how yields will be impacted,” said Martha Anderson, an ECOSTRESS science team member with the US Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, Maryland. (IANS)