New trend: Now Universities also planning to create small satellites

Small Satellites can be useful in Health, Education & climate change study

Ahmedabad: ISRO has recently successfully launched 20 satellites including two satellites made by universities. Gujarat Technological University (GTU) has tie up with ISRO for joint research work. As a part of the program, GTU organised a two Day Workshop on ‘Pico/Nano/Micro Satellites’. GTU faculty and students are gearing up to design, develop & launch small satellites. This workshop is first step towards this direction. Dr. Sharan Asundi, Aerospace Science Engineering Department, Tuskegee University, USA guided the students & faculties in the workshop. He inspired & motivated participants during this two-day workshop.

He said that this can be starting point for the university to start work on a small satellite. Various universities, colleges or institutes can join hands to make such project successful. Pico or Nano or Micro Satellites are the smaller size satellites, which are ideally suited for universities. Generally, Satellites are designed, developed and launched by Space Agencies or department of defense in various countries. Now Universities and engineering colleges as well as institutions are taking up space mission in various countries. Aspirations of students are attached with such projects.

Pico/Nano/Micro Satellites are complimentary to conventional satellites. They can be used as technology demonstrators. This means if you want to fly something on conventional satellite, you can use the small satellite as test. Develop the technology, put the technology on a very small satellite & test it. Then it became space-ready for conventional satellite. You can do science experiments, where you need data points at different locations, it is very expensive to launch big satellites at different points. In such a situation, we can use many small satellites, which are less expensive cost-wise.  We can use different universities or colleges to build such small satellites and launch them for the purpose of data points across the India. We can put small science payloads in such small satellites.

There is vision of satellite based communication network. Currently we have cell-phone based communications, where we are using towers. If you enter in a lift, sometime you may have problem of signals. But if you have satellite communication, it will work uninterrupted. Such small satellites can be useful for online education. We have lots of advancements in celphone technologies. We can have lots of utilities in our smart phones. Images, processing, communicate back or such applications can be possible with usage of satellite & celphone, he told.

In future satellites may be used for healthcare services like online health guidance or telemedicine. We can explore m-healthcare or similar health services through small satellite usage. If you see trends in engineering, there are so many disciplines. Much of them especially the bright ones, but few of them are finally become helpful for corporate world. So if we take a project like this, we have to motivate people. TV channels are running on geo-stationary satellites & that are very challenging. Smaller Satellites can be a boon for environment monitoring, especially for farmers. These days global warming has become a major issue. Climate change etc. can be experimented through such small satellites. Much data can be gathered. If universities or colleges can try on this front, they can get lots of useful data, he said.

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