Saturday, April 17, 2010

Students add to space odyssey

City students achieved a milestone in Indian space history on Saturday with the handing over of India's first pico-satellite to Isro. 

Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT) played host to the prestigious event on Saturday and a large crowd gathered to witness it. The first of its kind in the country, the satellite was designed by a consortium of seven engineering colleges from Bangalore and Hyderabad. 

NMIT principal H C Nagaraj said the satellite weighs less than 1 kg. It has a volume of 1.1 litres and is designed to operate in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The payload of the satellite consists of a CMOS camera capable of capturing images with a ground resolution of approximately 90 metres. 

The satellite, which was developed at a cost of Rs 55 lakh, will send the image and telemetry data from the orbit to the ground station Nastrac (Nitte Amateur Satellite Tracking Centre). Its mission life is estimated to be six months. 

"Work on Studsat began about one-and-a-half years ago. It was initiated by the students and Isro provided great encouragement throughout the project. Students did face a few obstacles while working on it but with support from their advisor N R Shetty and principal, they managed to overcome the hiccups," said project coordinator Jharna Majumdar. 

The team of Studsat said: "We took on this project because of our interest in aerospace. In fact, it happened when we attended the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Hyderabad in 2007. Students from different engineering colleges of Hyderabad and Bangalore who attended IAC initiated the project. The realization that the project is no longer a dream, but a reality, is so exciting. Words can't capture the way we feel." 

This pico-satellite, the lightest one in India, has gone through a number of critical environmental tests. The team presented a paper titled, 'Studsat — a student pico-satellite for imaging', at the IAC 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland. They won the Hans Von Muldau Award for the best team project, awarded by the International Astronautical Federation and sponsored by Deutsche Gesellschaft fur-Luft-und Raumfahrt. 

The satellite is scheduled to be launched along with Cartosat-2B in Pslv C-15 in the first week of May.

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