PES University: A five year dream comes true for 300 students

Published On 04/10/2016

Five years of efforts by at least 300 final-year engineering students of Bengaluru-based PES University of successive batches since 2011, is set to be part of a record to be created by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) .
ISRO launches its polar synchronous satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) C-35 launcher from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (80 Km north of Chennai). It carries PES University's PES Imaging Satellite (or Pisat), weighing 5.25 Kg, and attempts for the first time to release satellites in two different orbits using the same rocket. Both the orbits are at a slight angle to each other, but will be in polar synchronous orbits.

In a polar orbit, the satellite passes above the north and south poles of the planet in each revolution and has an inclination of about 90 degrees to the equator.

PES University' Pisat is part of this first-of its-kind ISRO's mission to release six satellites in one orbit and two student satellites (including Pisat) in another - a feat so far been tried twice as technology demonstrator in December 2015 and June 2016 using the PSLV launcher.

The fifth batch of PES University final-year students - mainly from the telecommunications department - will eagerly await the first satellite signals to be received on Monday night around 9.40 pm, the students' guide Prof V Sambasiva Rao, professor, electrical communications engineering, PES University, also former deputy director at ISRO Satellite Centre, told Bangalore Mirror.

Pisat - developed entirely by the students under the guidance of Prof Rao and Prof VK Agrawal (former group director, control systems at ISRO), and various technologist, researchers and entrepreneurs - is a three-axis stabilized imaging nano-satellite that weighs 5 Kg and generates 13 watts power with S-band RF (radio frequency) communication.

Pisat's major subsystems include an imaging camera to provide Earth imageries with 80 metre resolution, on board computer, attitude determination and control system, radio frequency communication system with S-Band frequency, telemetry, tele-command, thermal system, structure and electrical power system (EPS).

The ground software is developed for on-ground orbit determination essential for mission operations to monitor from the Pisat ground control station antenna, located on the PES University campus in Banashankari III Stage. Pisat's main function is to image the Earth and send pictures and data to the ground station.
"The first images will be received on Tuesday morning at 10 am as it requires daylight," Rao said.

Pisat and another student satellite, the 10-Kg Pratham by Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, will share an orbit after the PSLV C-35 rocket releases six other satellites - including the main payload, ISRO's 371-Kg SCATSAT-1 weather satellite to provide wind speed and vector data services for weather forecasting - into a different orbit. The other five satellites are foreign satellites - ALSAT 1B, 2B and 1N from Algeria, Pathfinder-1 from USA and NLS-19 from Canada.

Pisat will be in operation at an altitude of 670 Km in the polar orbit. Pisat was subject to critical design and quality reviews by ISRO.

Profs Agrawal and Rao joined PES University in 2011 and 2012, respectively after their long stints with ISRO. Their main aim to have the Rs 1.25 crore Pisat project (including costs incurred for the ground control station) was to provide students "a hands-on experience" at space technologies, which until then they had only heard or read about.

Both the ex-ISRO scientists are with PES University's Crucible of Research & Innovation (CORI), an initiative with a mix of diverse and experienced talent comprising of researchers technologists and entrepreneurs. Agrawal is its director since April 2011.

Twenty-two-year-old Nitin Kumar, PES University student from the fourth batch who worked on the radio frequency and communication systems of the satellite, represents the excitement among students of the institute: "All these years of effort is about to pay off when we receive the first signals from our satellite. I am sure 300 students who have worked on this project in batches since 2011 will be waiting with bated breath for it... and then to witness the normal functioning of the satellite to send back images of the Earth."



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