In what is a first for India, a bunch of university students have developed and fabricated two nano satellites – each weighing 35 kg or less – which will be sent into space on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, scheduled to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) around March-April this year.
`Jugnu' has been created by students from the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), while the other nano satellite, named Anusat, has been developed in Anna University in Chennai. Both groups of students received help from the ISRO faculty.
About Jugnu, Sanjay Govind Dhande, director, IIT Kanpur, said it would have most of the functions of a normal satellite on a much smaller platform. The payload would include an indigenously designed camera for near remote sensing and a GPS receiver. `Jugnu' will transmit a 'blinking' signal at all times all over the earth.
"It is extremely cost effective and reliable satellite," added department head N S Vyas. "After its launch, `Jugnu' will be continuously monitored and controlled by a ground station located on the campus."
'Team Jugnu', comprising faculty members as well as students, will keep an eye over quality assurance aspect also. A member of the team said, "The images collected will also be useful in studying vegetation and the water bodies. The satellite design is mostly indigenous. Special efforts are being made to keep the weight to the lowest minimum."
Most of the performance tests for the subsystems of satellite will be carried out in the institute itself, using existing infrastructure. However, launch critical tests will be carried out at ISRO centres. The life span of the satellite is set at one year.
Anusat, the other nano satellite that the PSLV will carry, is designed to carry out similar functions. It will be useful for drought and wasteland monitoring, urban planning, and mineralogical mapping, among other things.
A brainchild of former Anna University vice-chancellor R M Vasagam, who was also the project director of 'Apple', ISRO's first ever satellite, Anusat will carry a digital store and forward payload for amateur communication, among several other technological payloads. ISRO has supplied the structure, solar panels, chemical battery, sensors and actuators.
It is learnt that IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur are also in the process of building micro-satellites with similar help from ISRO.