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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014
Want more space in your life?
Vandana Ramnani, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 13, 2013
First Published: 10:56 IST(13/11/2013)
Last Updated: 11:05 IST(14/11/2013)

India’s first `450 crore-Mars Orbiter Satellite, blasted off towards the red planet from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota last week to carry out experiments and search for evidence of life there.

Summing up the flight of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) named Mangalyaan, SK Shivakumar, director, ISRO Satellite Centre, had stated, “Our baby is up in space looking for scientific objects. We have a long way to go.”

While the launch certainly made the countrymen proud, it also has had thousands of young students aspiring to be part of such space missions in the future. The scientific minds behind the launch are today icons that many a science student wishes to emulate.

Now, the question is, how does one set out to become a space scientist? What are the courses one should pursue to be a  part of a space mission?

What you need
The study of space sciences include subjects such as astronomy and astrophysics, earth sciences, atmospheric sciences and solar system studies. Students interested in taking up careers in space technology, space applications or space sciences need to have studied maths, physics and chemistry at the undergraduate level as most engineering institutes across the country offer specialised master’s and research courses in space technology. These courses equip students to take up jobs in Indian Space Research Organisation (it selects scientists directly though its central recruitment board exam and some through IIST), Defence Research and Development Organisation, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Besides, there are also private firms that undertake aerospace research or manufacture parts for rockets and satellites. In the physical sciences field, there are firms that analyse data of remote sensing satellites. The starting salary of a scientist engineer is around `40,000 and can go up to more than a lakh depending on the rank.

All subjects covered
The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), located at Valiamala, 18 km from Thiruvananthapuram city, is perhaps the only institute in the country that offers a complete range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes with a specific focus on space sciences, technology and applications. It was inaugurated in 2007 and is deemed to be a university under section 3 of the UGC Act 1956. It functions as an autonomous body under the department of space, government of India and equips scientists to take up careers in
ISRO.

“ISRO/DOS will have the first right to absorb IIST students, subject to the number of vacancies available and as per the recruitment norms of ISRO/DOS Centres for IIST graduates.

Institutes that should be on your radar

The academic institutes for space science and technology in India are some of the best in the world and provide ample scope to students to work and research on real-time projects

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram
IIST offers undergraduate degrees in avionics, aerospace engineering and physical sciences and an MS programme in astronomy and astrophysics.  BE/BTech/MSc/MS or equivalent degree with a minimum of 60% marks or CGPA 6.5 out of 10 are the requisites. A valid GATE score is required

Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
The Indian Institute of Astrophysics is a premier institute devoted to research in astronomy, astrophysics and related physics.  It offers a diverse range of research programmes on the sun and the solar system, stellar physics, extragalactic astronomy and theroretical astrophysics and related physics. The institute has several observatories

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
Established in 1982, the Joint Astronomy Programme (JAP) is a programme for training astrophysics graduate students, run in collaboration with the Raman Research Institute (RRI), the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The Physics Department of IISc hosts the joint astronomy programme.

Raman Research Institute, Bangalore
The Raman Research Institute was founded in 1948 by the Indian physicist and Nobel laureate, Sir C V Raman, to continue his studies and basic research after he retired from the Indian Institute of Science. The main areas of research are astronomy and astrophysics, light and matter physics, soft condensed matter and theoretical physics

Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune
The Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) is an autonomous institution set up by the University Grants Commission (UGC) of India. IUCAA aims to be a centre of excellence within the university sector for teaching, research and development in astronomy and astrophysics

National Centre for Radio Astronomy, Pune
The National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) is a leading centre for research in a wide range of areas in astronomy and astrophysics.

NCRA offers opportunities to work in technical aspects relevant for radio astronomy such as analog and digital electronics, signal processing, antenna design, communication and software development


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