It was more than three years ago that D.V.A. Raghava Murthy, Project Director, Small Satellites Projects, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Satellite Centre, Bangalore, was addressing a group of college students in that town on what a fascinating subject space was and how students should get interested in it. His speech was so riveting that at the end of the meeting, a group of students met him and asked him why ISRO could not help them in building a satellite. Thus began the story of Studsat, a tiny satellite that was built by 35 students belonging to four engineering colleges in Bangalore and three in Hyderabad. Studsat was put in orbit by the PSLV-C15 from Sriharikota on Monday. “Studsat is part of the encouragement given by the ISRO to colleges and universities to learn space technology and learn how to build, nano, micro and pico satellites,” said Mr. Raghava Murthy. Indeed, Shewata Prasad, one of the students from Bangalore, was fascinated enough by the Studsat project that she gave a wide berth to a well-paying job, her teachers said.

“The contagion” has caught on, and four other nano satellites are in the pipeline. According to Mr. Raghava Murthy, these are a three-kg “Jugnu” satellite being built by the students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur; a 3.5 kg satellite called Pradhan being built by the students of IIT-Mumbai; and two other satellites, each weighing less than 10 kg, that are being assembled by the students of SRM University and Sathyabhama University, both in Chennai. Anusat, a 40-kg satellite, built by Anna University, Chennai, had been put in order by one of the earlier PSLV missions.

The Studsat employed several frontline technologies that were designed and developed by the 35 students themselves with guidance from ISRO. “It was a multi-disciplinary effort,” said Professor B.S. Satyanarayana, Principal, R.V. College of Engineering, and Prof. S. Jagannathan, Head of the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering in the same college. It took the students about a year and a half to design, build and test the Studsat. (The project began in August 2008). The lead institute in the project was Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT), Bangalore.

How it works

The satellite has a camera which can take pictures in the HAM code. The camera can take pictures of the earth, which can help in predicting the weather. The resolution of the images, taken from an altitude of 637 km, was 90 metres, said H.C. Nagaraj, Principal, NMIT and Professor Jharna Majumdar, Professor, Department of Computer Science Engineering in the same college.

“The ground station built by the students in Bangalore is one of the achievements of this project,” said Prof. Satyanarayana. It received the signals from the satellite soon after the Studsat was put in orbit and the students also built a clean room for testing the satellite.

While NMIT contributed Rs. 45 lakh for the project, six other colleges chipped in with Rs. 45 lakh. The six colleges are Rashtriya Vidyalaya College of Engineering. M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology and B.M.S. Institute of Technology, all located in Banglore, and Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology, Institute of Aeronautical Engineering and Vigyan Institute of Technology and Science, all located in Hyderabad. The Department of Science and Technology, Karnataka Government, gave Rs. 5 lakh to the project.

Karunanidhi congratulates ISRO

Chennai Special Correspondent reports:

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Monday congratulated ISRO scientists for the successful launch of PSLV C15 from Sriharikota and described it as a “wonderful achievement.”

In a message, Mr. Karunanidhi said due to the hard work by the scientists, India had become one of the frontline countries in space research. The successful launch had proved to the world the country's capability in space research, he added.

On behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu and on his own behalf, Mr. Karunanidhi congratulated the ISRO scientists for the successful mission, the statement added.

Correction an Clarification

The sixth paragraph of the above report said: “A 3.5-kg satellite called Pradhan is being built by students of IIT-Mumbai.”

It's “Pratham” and the IIT-Bombay. “Pratham” or the IIT Bombay Student Satellite Project, aims to make this IIT as a centre for advancement in satellite and space technology. It plans to launch at least five satellites within the next few years. These satellites could be test-beds for new technology that is being developed in the institute and also a method for space qualification. “Pratham” is the first satellite under this project. The aim is to build a microsatellite in less than three years which would then be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It will weigh less than 15 kg and expected to have a four-month mission life.

Keywords: StudsatPSLV-C15ISRO