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Anna University's eye in the sky


"UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENTS cannot be doing work in isolation. It is time they integrated their work as a project. Only then everyone can benefit."

This quote of E. Balagurusamy, Anna University Vice-Chancellor, has a context. And that is a pioneering initiative by a technical university to design, fabricate and develop a micro-satellite, with a funding support of Rs. 5.5 crores from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). More than a technology demonstrator or creator, the ANUSAT (Anna University Satellite) is considered by insiders as a capability-enhancer and forces integrator.

The micro-satellite development is an opportunity for the faculty, researchers and students of different departments to get an insight into the various aspects of space technology. It also helps them conduct application studies and gain experience in satellite mission operations, says project Director and University Registrar, T. Jayaraman.

Micro-satellites by universities are in vogue in the U.K., Germany, Israel or South Korea. But in India, Anna University is the first to embark on such a project, he adds.

"A micro-satellite development involves people from areas such as mathematics, physics, electrical, electronic and telecom engineering, computer sciences, structural, civil and mechanical engineering, besides basic sciences. Till now many of them were working in their own spheres. But this project will definitely help in integrating their capabilities and enhance their ability to work in a multi-disciplinary platform," says Prof. Balagurusamy. It will also be a training ground for the faculty and scientists who want to go deeper into areas of design of satellites, or look for more application of concepts.

Incidentally, the satellite development involves more students than project associates or technicians, showing the emphasis of the university in creating more human resources in space technologies from among students, say project administrators. ANUSAT, the experimental micro-satellite aims at providing students the experiment opportunities in communication in VHF and UHF level frequencies.

"The payload originally conceptualised in 2002 was 60 kg, but with tremendous improvements in electronics, we have been able to size it down to 36 kg," notes Dr. Jayaraman. ANUSAT will have a mission life of two years and orbit the earth at an altitude of 700 km. Its spin would be stabilised so that it would always remain sun synchronous.

Work would be completed by December 2005. But the launch date in 2006 will have to be decided by the ISRO for launch from Sriharikota. The control centre would be at the University's MIT campus in Chrompet, and ground stations at the Chrompet campus, as also at Bangalore, IIT- Guwahati and Pune University.

K. Ramachandran

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