The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B) will not suffer Monday morning blues on September 26. At 9.15am, the 389-seater auditorium at the Victor Menezes Convention Centre will see euphoric students hooting and applauding as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch Pratham — the first microsatellite designed and developed by IIT-B — from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
Weighing around 10kgs and designed to fit within a 30-cm cube, Pratham will orbit at an altitude of 670kms. The microsatellite set to be launched on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV- C35, will orbit over India at 11.25am every day.
“The satellite will measure and map the total electron count in the ionosphere, which will help for predicting tsunamis. It will also enhance the accuracy of the Global Positioning System (GPS) in India,” said Ratnesh Mishra, final-year student, aerospace engineering department, IIT-B, who worked on the satellite for three-and-a-half years.
Though the life cycle of the mission is four months, the team said the satellite will be able to continue collecting data on the electron count.
With a ground station at the institute, the data collected during the first two months will be accessible only to the Pratham team. The satellite data collected over the next two months will be an open source that can be accessed by the student community. When the satellite passes over India, IIT-B will transmit the data so that any university with a small ground station will be able to detect the beacon signal from Pratham, and measure the total electron count above their respective ground stations.
Conceptualised in 2008, students of the aerospace engineering department and spread over seven batches have been involved in various stages of developing Pratham – ranging from designing, analysis, to fabrication and testing.
In an effort to share information, IIT-B has helped set up ground stations to track the satellite at engineering colleges such as the Atharva College of Engineering, Malad. The institute has also collaborated with universities overseas such as the University College London and the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Institute of Earth Physics of Paris).
“We are looking forward to the success of this mission, which is at a basic level of scientific research,” said professor Hemendra Arya.