Sushant, who dropped out of the engineering college in Delhi to chase his passion for acting, never really opted out of space science.

Photo of Sushant Singh RajputCourtesy: Twitter/itsSSR
Voices Tribute Tuesday, June 16, 2020 - 15:39

An ardent fan of celestial transitions, late Sushant Singh Rajput had dreams undefined – but which he pursued to the best of his efforts. He has definitely paved ways for upcoming generations to mull on the existence of phenomena that most of us rarely knew, or we were aware of but we never bothered to learn more about.

A nerd who dropped out of the engineering college in Delhi, to chase his passion for acting, Sushant never really opted out of space science. A believer, he always followed his interests in non-fictional works, and the existing example of it is his house in Mumbai. The 34-year-old visited NASA in 2018 to train for his film, Chanda Mama Door Ke. Owing to certain issues, the film never released, however Sushant had already conceptualised his findings, to move ahead in his research.

Sushant was a member of the International Lunar Land Registry (ILLR) for three years, before he 'bought' a piece of land on the far side of the moon which is called the ‘Mare Moscoviense’ or the dark side of the moon. It was around 2018-19, when he invested in a Meade 14” LX600 telescope. This was one of the many curiosities Sushant had in his quest to unwind the aspects of the universe/space. He spent time and effort on studying celestial life and the moon. He had detailed discussions with black hole astrophysicist and LIGO scientist Dr Karan Jani.

In a tweet which Jani shared on June 14, he recalled his discussion with the space enthusiast, Sushant and wrote, “He took it as his mission to educate his fans about all the big discoveries. Our 2017 discovery of the neutron star collision was the closest to him. It was his dream to one day, visit the LIGO observatories in the US.” Referring to Sushant’s never ending interest in celestial happenings, Jani further had written, “Sushant took his telescope (LX600) to Chambal during the shoot of Sonchiriya, so he could better observe the nebulae.” 

‘Mare Moscoviense’ and the ILLR program

‘Mare’ means ‘sea’, as termed by Russian astronomers in the late 1950s. Mare Moscoviense (Sea of Moscouvy), is one among the many ‘maria’ (volcanic dark basins that are minutely visible as patches from earth) on the moon. It is the dark side of the moon which is not visible from the earth, and so it is also called the ‘blind side of the moon’.

The ILLR program, on today’s date, charges USD 32 per acre to 'buy land' on the far side of the moon. However, last year a report from PTI said that it is Rs 2,300 per acre of any maria on the moon. It is likely that Sushant 'bought' land on the ‘mare’ by paying around Rs 6,900 in 2018. He was a member of the ILLR, which is a crowd funded program that aims to “gather data necessary for human exploration and development of the lunar surface, without hampering its natural beauty.” 

(Note: The ILLR program is not backed by any governmental authority. Further, India is a signee of the Outer Space Treaty, as per which no country or citizen of the country can 'own' any resouces in outer space. This piece talks about Sushant's 'buying' of a piece of land on the moon as it expresses of his deep interest in astronomy.)

The land that he 'bought' was around 170 miles in (276km) indiameter. Also, Sushant received a kit from ILLR which included the satellite image of his piece of land on the moon, an info sheet that details the geography of Mare Moscoviense and an interactive full moon atlas that he used to navigate the Moscoviense basin, from earth. The co-ordinates of his buy on the moon as registered with the ILLR are 27.3 degree N 147.9 degree E. The largest lunar mare of the moon is called ‘Imbrium’ which is 1,210km in size that is 750 miles.

The purchase deed issued to Sushant by ILLR read, “Be it known and proclaimed to all that Sushant Singh Rajput is recorded as the true and legal owner of the property located at Mare Moscoviense ("Sea of Muscovy"), 27.3 degree North Latitude, 147.9 degree East Longitude, Tract 01 - Parcels A0263, A0264 and A0265 (three acres, inclusive) as designated on Luna, Earth's Moon, and duly recorded by the International Lunar Lands Registry,” PTI had reported.

The 34-year-old garnered a vast knowledge on physics and space science, given his interests. What Sushant leaves behind is a curiosity in several young minds to know the celestial objects further, and what he takes with him are his half solved equations of astrophysics that he worked on. As his bio read, “Photon is a double slit”, he too was an actor, part physicist and a seeker.

Views expressed are the author’s own.

Gourav Pratap Mishra is a former sub editor/reporter with The New Indian Express.

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