Antariksham Weekly #04
Three new Space Technology Incubation Centres, Gaganyaan Mission Updates, Pixxel unveils Hyperspectral Imaging Payload, LPSC-2021 and more
Three new Space Technology Incubation Centres Inaugurated
Dr K Sivan, Chairman ISRO / Secretary DOS, inaugurated three Space Technology Incubation Centre(s) (S-TICs) on March 18, 2021, in an online programme. The three S-TICs, together with the three established in the last two years, make the total six S-TICs, one in each region across India.
Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur (for Western region)
Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal (for Central region)
National Institute of Technology, Rourkela (for Eastern region)
National Institute of Technology, Agartala (for North-Eastern region)
Dr B R Ambedkar National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar (for Northern region)
National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli (for Southern region)
S-TICs are envisioned to take a leading role in the region to provide opportunities to final year graduate, postgraduate and research scholars as future budding entrepreneurs. In some sense, these are extensions of the Space Technology Cells of ISRO at various IITs across the Nation. Projects of practical relevance linked to the ongoing missions or future missions of ISRO are made available to the students at these centres through documents like RESPOND basket.
List for the candidates selected for NSIL Skill Development Programme-2021
Meeting with Saudi Space Commission
ISRO and Saudi Space Commission met in a virtual Bilateral Meeting to discuss space cooperation and the possible signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
NOTAM for Aerial Survey over Chitradurga. CY-3 tests are likely.
A Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) is filed for a large region around the Chitradurga ISRO facility. The notice is enforced for 0200-1200 (UTC) from 19 to March 31 2021. It is most likely for CY-3 tests, but it could also be related to something entirely different as the region also covers a DRDO runway.
Local Report of SSLV Static Fire Test Failure
Many times local news media houses receive and feature news of ISRO centres much earlier than national media. Recently, regional media reported that a state fire test of SSLV's solid propellant based first stage booster (SS1) might have failed. While the scientists are reviewing the fault in the rocket motor's nozzle, this anomaly can lead to a further delay in the launch vehicle's maiden flight.
Times of India reported that the four Indian Astronaut Candidates undergoing training in Russia had passed all tests, and their training will end in March end. ISRO will then take a call on when to call the candidates back to India and start the Indian leg of the training. While answering some questions in the Parliament, Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State, Department of Space, said that the Indian portion would start in May/June of 2021.
He also mentioned that no private firms would be involved in the maiden human spaceflight mission. It'll be assisted by the DRDO, Indian Armed Forces and other Space Agencies such as Roscosmos. Dr Singh also answered some other questions related to the expansion of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Valiamala, Private Firms in Space and Commercial Missions in the Lok Sabha session on March 17.
The same Times of India article also reported that Dmitry Loskutov, director-general, Glavkosmos, said, "The production of spacesuits is carried out in strict accordance with the approved schedule. There are no alterations of the production deadlines." This quote again puts questions on the spacesuit to be used in the maiden flight. There have been multiple reports of different spacesuits designed by ISRO, Sure Safety, a Vadodara based company and Glavkosmos. Maybe, we would need to wait for another Parliamentary question to get the answer.
NETRA aims to track space object tracking, studies related to space weather, Asteroids, and other Near Earth Objects (NEO). ISRO released a tender for space object tracking data of 100 days for six months. In the past few years, ISRO has been active to improve its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) capabilities. Even in 2020, multiple MoUs were signed with different agencies for collaboration in the same field. Currently, there are limited facilities for space object tracking. ISRO could be looking for data to improve its data processing techniques or close gaps in its own available data.
Pixxel closes the $7.3 million seed funding round and releases a new website with Hyperspectral Imaging Payload details.
Pixxel, a small satellite-based Earth observation company, completed its $7.3 million seed funding round. The company also unveiled the indigenous hyperspectral imaging technology for the first time.
Hyperspectral imagining helps in a better understanding of the imaged region. Like three primary colours (Red, Green and Blue) in the visible light, a hyperspectral camera can image the region in multiple bands. This ability essentially enables users to distinguish between an extensive range of materials like water, greenhouse gases, green cover, concrete construction etc.
The company mentions that its first satellite Anand, which couldn't launch in the previous PSLV, will carry the hyperspectral imaging sensor on the newly redesigned website. This satellite would be one of the highest resolution hyperspectral small satellites in the world. Do explore their website to learn more.
GeoKumbh (Geoकुंभ) Portal for Kumbh Mela to be held in Haridwar
IIRS released a web portal for space-based observation of the Haridwar region, the site of Kumbh Mela-2021. Khumb Mela, celebrated every 12 years, attracts millions of devotees. The 2001 Mela had a footfall of over 60 million people. The portal shows various types of data ranging from daily weather, pollution updates to land cover, forest type and other remote sensing data.
Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) is a constituent unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Department of Space, Government of India.
52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
In last week's newsletter, I shared some of the articles and posters submitted by Indian Scientists and Professors at the LPSC-2021. Official Microblogger for LPSC, @Astro_Neel, has shared a list of all the papers, presentations and posters presented at the conference. This edition of the newsletter is already the longest till now. Therefore I won't share more details about the posters. I urge you to check out at least the list to know the planetary science is happening in India.
Virtual IIRS Academia Meet (VIAM) – 2021 (March 16, 2021)
Find time stamps for various topics here.
March 17: India's First Remote Sensing Satellite IRS-1A Launch. This satellite paved the path for the ISRO as we know it today.