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 a pico satellite with an imaging camera and several frontline technologies have been employed in it. The students had built a clean room to test the satellite and a ground station in Bangalore to receive signals.
“Studsat is part of the encouragement given by the ISRO to colleges and universities to study 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 so fascinated by the Studsat project that she chose it over 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. The three-kg “Jugnu” satellite is being built by the students of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur.
A 3.5-kg satellite called Pradhan is being built by students of IIT-Mumbai. Two more satellites, each weighing less than 10 kg, are being assembled by students of SRM University and Sathyabhama University, both in Chennai.
Anusat, a 40-kg satellite, built by Anna University, Chennai, was put in orbit by an earlier PSLV mission.
Studsat employed several frontline technologies that were designed and developed by the 35 students themselves with ISRO guidance. “It was a multi-disciplinary effort,” said Professor B.S. Satyanarayana, Principal, and Professor S. Jagannathan, Head of the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, both of R.V. College of Engineering. It took the students about a year-and-a-half to design, build and test Studsat. (The project began in August 2008). The lead institute in the project was Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT), Bangalore.
The satellite has a camera which can take pictures in the HAM code. Pictures of the earth taken by the camera can help in predicting the weather. The resolution of the images, taken from an altitude of 637 km, is 90 metres, said H.C. Nagaraj, Principal, and Professor Jharna Majumdar, Department of Computer Science Engineering, NMIT.
“The ground station built by the students in Bangalore is one of the achievements of this project,” said Professor Satyanarayana.
The NMIT contributed Rs.45 lakh for the project. Six other colleges chipped in with another Rs.45 lakh: Rashtriya Vidyalaya College of Engineering, M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology and B.M.S. Institute of Technology, all located in Bangalore; 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 for the project.