In a promotional event for his upcoming movie, Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, actor R Madhavan made a speech, talking about India's Mars mission, and how Panjakam, or Panchang, or the Hindu calendar played a role in its success.
The video can be roughly translated to Madhavan claiming other space agencies have tried 30+ times to send a satellite to orbit Mars, and then succeeded. And that Indian rockets did not have three engines (solid fuel, liquid fuel, and cryogenic) like the ones used by other foreign space agencies to propel rockets to Mars' orbit, especially cryogenic- an engine that can set a satellite in its orbit in the correct angle. And the distance they could go wasn't too much either, and since Indian rockets lacked that, they used the information provided in the panchagam (Hindu calendar).
He adds that the microsecond at which the rocket was launched was also calculated using the information in the Panchagam, which is a celestial map, with all information about the various planets, their gravitational pull, and the sun's deflection, and it was all calculated perfectly thousands of years ago. And so, the rocket was launched, and it went around the Earth, the moon, and Jupiter's moon, and it ricocheted like a play vessel and was put into Mars' orbit.
The actor has been trolled immensely for his claims, with some calling him a 'WhatsApp uncle', while others mocking that ISRO should add this vital information to their website.
It has been going viral on Facebook too.
The Logical Indian Fact check team found most of the claims to be misleading, and with no scientific basis.
Firstly, accounting to NASA's official websites, there have only been 22 Mars missions from the USA and from the European Space Agency (ESA), including orbiters and landers/rovers, and out of the total 50 missions, 30 of which have been partially or fully successful, that have been recorded, which include fly-bys, the majority are from the Soviet Union and the USA. Besides these, only China, India, ESA, UAE, and Japan have launched Mars missions. No space agency has tried 30 odd times to have one successful mission, and not only 4 countries have succeeded.
China National Space Administration (CNSA)'s first Mars rover, Zhurong, a part of the Tianwen-1 mission to Mars, actually successfully landed on Mars in their second attempt, and ESA, with its Mars Express orbiter, reached its target in one go, but since it's on inter-country organization, India is considered the first country to reach the Mars orbiter in their first attempt. Additionally, Mangalyaan was a Mars Orbiter Mission of India, which makes a comparison to all other missions misleading.
Liquid Fuel Used
Cryogenic engines basically use cryogenic fuel, which is liquified gas at low temperatures, and it is more advantageous compared to solid and liquid fuel engines, but not as the claim suggests. It doesn't assist in setting a satellite in its orbit at the right angle, according to ISRO. Also, India's Orbiter did use liquid fuel for propulsion, so the claim about India not having the three engines used by foreign space agencies is also misleading.
India did launch Mangalyaan in a specific time frame, called the Hoffman window, or Hohmann transfer, which is a Minimum Energy Transfer Orbit, to "send a spacecraft from Earth to Mars with the least amount of fuel possible."
According to the Planetary Society Organization, "The transfer orbit has to be timed so that when the spacecraft departs Earth, it will arrive at its orbit apoapsis when Mars is at the same position in its orbit. Earth and Mars align properly for a Hohmann transfer once every 26 months."
The Mars Orbiter, Mangalyaan, did not orbit around Earth's moon or Jupiter's moon, nor did it use its gravity assist. It simply went around the Earth a few times then around the Sun, before finally entering the trajectory of the Martian orbit.
Religion Doesn't Always Have To Be Scientific
Along with these misleading and false claims, in the Hindu calendar, Earth isn't considered a planet, but a point of observation, so using that to calculate interplanetary travel would not be possible, even if we stretch our imagination. Additionally, the Panchang shows the position of planets relative to the Sun, and plotting a map on the basis of that can be done by anyone with basic information, and crediting it for the successful launch really undermines the knowledge and effort of scientists who worked on the mission.
The Logical Indian Fact Check team verified the speech and found it to be unscientific and misleading. There are many errors in Madhavan's speech, and even though he's apologized for being 'ignorant', he's not corrected any of them. Especially with his upcoming movie, a biopic on former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, it would be expected that he is more mindful of his claims about rocket science.
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