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A complete guide for Space Nerds at IIT Bombay (2020)
A list of courses and student activities compiled as a guide for space nerds at IIT Bombay to help them take decisions to pursue their interests.
IIT Bombay is a premier engineering institute of India. Many of the brilliant minds come to this institution with high hopes. With our current JEE system and the societal pressure, not everyone is able to take their branch of interest. Fortunately, once you are at the IIT, there are multiple options to explore and pursue your interests. So, here is a guide for space nerds at IIT Bombay (2020).
IIT Bombay offers a vast majority of choices; From elective or extra (Additional Learning Course ALC) courses to student clubs and activities. There are even actual space projects brewing up in the labs of the otherwise modest buildings. I’ll cover some of these options in this article which I came across in my five years at IIT Bombay. I may have missed something and if you find anything, do revert to get it added.
IIT Bombay Courses for Space Nerds
Multiple courses are spanning various departments which are helpful for a person who is working on some space project. A course may only be dealing with some basic theory which can be extended and applied to your space mission. Therefore, almost all courses have the potential to be extended to space science and technology. Hence, I am covering only such courses which explicitly have a space aspect. I will only mention the topics covered which make the courses relevant for space science and technology. For detailed review refer the DAMP blogs of various departments.
Guidance, Navigation and Control
The following list of courses cover areas of topics such as orbit formation, rocket trajectories and even satellite control. There are several other courses as well within Aerospace, Mechanical and SysCon Department which cover the same topics.
EP 222: Classical Mechanics 1
The course run by the engineering physics department covers basics Newtonian and Lagrangian Mechanics. The topics of two-body problem, three-body problem, orbits and rigid body rotations are covered.
AE 240/ AE 713: Spaceflight Mechanics
Along with the equations of orbit, the course deals with a lot of basics of spaceflight. The mechanics of the journey of spacecraft from lift-off to an earth orbit or an interplanetary orbit is studied. This includes the rocket trajectories for both single-stage and multi-stage rockets along with in-orbit manoeuvring of the spacecraft. The topic of re-entry is also touched in brief detail.
AE 626: Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control
A new addition to the list of Aerospace Electives, the course is true to its name. It gives an insight into the rigid body dynamics followed by the applications of the same towards spacecraft attitude (rotation) control design. The course is introductory.
AE 410/ AE 641: Navigation and Guidance
Navigation and Guidance cover the basic navigation techniques such as Doppler, GPS and the science behind them. In the latter part of the course, missile guidance is taught. Majorly, only the classical guidance laws are covered.
SC 617: Adaptive Control Theory
While I haven’t done this course myself, it is known that some aspects of applications of adaptive control to spacecraft and satellites are covered.
Following is a list of courses which are categorised under a broad branch of Space Sciences. There are two significant departments under this category. The IIT Bombay Physics department has world-class facilities and faculty in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. At the same time, the Centre for Studies in Resource Engineering (CSRE) specialises in the field of Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems.
PH 426: Astrophysics
The course gives an insight into multiple sub-fields under the umbrella of Astrophysics. If your interest lies in the field of astronomy/astrophysics/cosmology, this course is a good started to cement your interests.
GNR628: Planetary Spectroscopy and Remote Sensing
The course specifically covers the topics of Lunar and Martian remote sensing. As the two planetary terrains are majorly rocky, a lot of geology is also included in the course.
GNR651: Digital Photogrammetry and Cartography
The art of taking digital images of the earth and forming maps out of it is studied in this course. The course also covers a small portion of the orbits of cartography satellites.
GNR607: Principles of Satellite Image Processing | GNR602: Advanced Methods in Satellite Image Processing
Both of these courses cover the topics of image processing of satellite images.
‘Pointy end up, flamey end down’ What constitutes the flamey end? Courses further in the list answer this question. There are courses on Cryogenics and Heat Transfer in the Mechanical department but having not done them; I have refrained from mentioning them.
AE 330/ AE 708: Aerospace Propulsion
The course covers the basic design principles of solid and liquid propulsion engines for rockets.
There are many Technical Clubs at IIT Bombay. Some are housed under the Institute Technical Council, while enthusiastic students run some on their own. There is nothing such as membership in these clubs. You just need to show your enthusiasm and attend their activities.
IITB Space Wing
The IIT Bombay Space Wing is a student interest group for discussions related to recent and historic space missions. I founded this group in my final year to sustain the space technology dialogues. Currently, it is a WhatsApp group. You can ping me on Facebook to get added to the group.
Controls and Dynamical Systems Student Reading Club
A recent addition to the clubs at IIT Bombay, this student reading group deals with everything there is to know about Controls and Dynamics. They conduct sessions on control theory and had a session on satellite control as well.
Krittika – The astronomy club of IIT Bombay
The astronomy club is arguably the best technical club I have come across at IIT Bombay. They conduct group discussions, talks and night-sky watching sessions. Apart from this, there are annual trips to the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) and Nehru Planetarium. I have been even lucky to be able to visit the Mount Abu Observatory and Udaipur MAST Observatory twice with this club.
HRC- Ham Radio Club
The Ham Radio Club of IIT Bombay was founded in my third year at IIT. A bunch of students from the satellite team started the club to increase the awareness about amateur radio within the institute. The club conducts regular satellite tracking sessions along with talks on various technical topics. Currently, they are posting regular posts on their blog.
The aeromodelling club while majorly deals with everything flying within the atmosphere; They do conduct sessions on water rockets or spaceflight documentaries from time-to-time.
IIT Bombay has a total of around ten technical teams working on complex projects which either compete in international competitions or deployed in the real world. The teams are run entirely by the students and conduct recruitments every year to maintain continuity.
IITB Student Satellite Program (IITBSSP)
The satellite team of IIT Bombay is training students in space technology since 2008. They launched their first satellite named Pratham in 2016 and currently working on multiple space technologies which will be tested on the PSLV Stage 4 Orbital Platform (PS4-OP). Majority of my knowledge of space science and technology is the courtesy of this team only.
Mars Rover Team, IIT Bombay
The Mars Rover Team is building a prototype Martian rover capable of extra-terrestrial robotics. They participate in the international University Rover Challenge conducted by the Mars Society.
Space Technology and Astrophysics Research Lab, IIT Bombay (STAR Lab)
STAR lab is an astrophysics research group the Department of Physics at IIT Bombay. As their webpage states, ‘We use the strong technology resources of IIT Bombay to develop cutting-edge instruments for research. We also use various telescopes around the world to study astrophysical transients, especially the electromagnetic counterparts, to gravitational wave sources.’ This lab is also undertaking Daksha Space Mission. Their webpage explains how prospective students can contact them.
I hope you would have realised that if you get out of your room to explore outside your curriculum, the options at IIT Bombay are vast for satisfying the space nerd in you. If you are still not satisfied, some students worked on their curriculum projects (seminars/ BTPs/ DDPs) on topics related to space. A select from them even go on to do their projects into a space startup. Manastu Space is a key example of the same.
All the best to all the space nerds at IIT Bombay, I hope you have a fulfilling journey at the premier institute. If you guys come across more stuff which can be added to the guide for space nerds at IIT Bombay, do let me know in the comments below.