Life on Mars possible, says school student

Chennai: At a time when India tried reaching moon’s southern pole as part of Chandrayaan 2 project, Prem Sumanth, a ninth standard student from St Bede’s Academy Senior Secondary School and a resident of Mandaveli won the second place in Voice 2019, a national-level concept based essay writing competition, conducted by Department of Science, Government of India, writing about the possibilities of human settlement in Mars.

Speaking to News Today¬†about the competition, Prem says, ”Voice 2019 is a competition conducted by the Physical Research Laboratory of the Department of Space as a part of the centenary celebrations of Vikram Sarabhai. The topic they gave was ‘Home at a distant planet’ and I decided to write it based on my own innovation about how we can sustain life on Mars. The innovation was mainly based on microbiology and genetic engineering and he came up with concepts like creating water in Mars, oxygenating the planet, improving soil fertility to grow plants, controlling the weather to support life, generating gravity and also to build ideal homes at Mars.”

He was the only participant from his school and in the first round, he made online submission of his essay. Out of more than 1000 entries, he was one among the 30 shortlisted students for the final round which was held in Ahmedabad. In the final round, he presented the topics in front of the judges and in the end was adjudged runner-up.

Speaking about his interest in science from childhood, he says, ”I always like science and the interest grew manifold when I got interested in science experiments. From 8th grade, I started to do simple innovations like moving carpet to wipe the floor. Since my father had also studied microbiology and biotechnology, it helped me.”

”I had studied about Mars in general much before this competition and I prepared for this competition by reading a lot of microbiology college textbooks and only then decided to apply innovations to help sustain life in Mars. I didn’t copy any ideas from other websites and it was all my own,” he said when asked about the idea behind the innovations about which he wrote.

About the experience, he got by participating in this competition he says, ”My project was the only one based on biotechnological innovation. This competition was an eye-opener for me and I would call it a turning point in my life. Apart from a great learning experience, I got interested in space and even want to study physics. However, my aim is to become a cosmo biotechnologist.”

When asked how many years it will take for humans to start living in Mars just to know his views, he states that, ”I think it might take us 300 more years to do such a thing as it still requires a lot of proper research and consistent planning. But it is definitely possible. Many years ago the British travelled for six months across the ocean to reach India and the day is not far away when we can travel to Mars in just six months,” he concludes.

Aaditya Anand M