Nanosatellite Jugnu topped India's technological achievements in 2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011 12:39 administrator
Print PDF

Dec 21, 2011 In terms of technological breakthroughs, it has been a mixed bag for India this year. But the pride of place goes to Jugnu, one of the world's tiniest nanosatellites, weighing only three kg, designed and fabricated by the mechanical engineering department of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K).

The IITians, led by Shantanu Agarwal and Shashank Chintalagiri, under professor N.S. Vyas, notched up a milestone in Indian space technology by accomplishing the feat on their own and overcoming a major challenge.

As the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) does not have an ejection system for satellites below 10 kg, designing one for Jugnu became imperative. Amrit Sagar stepped in and designed it from scratch, doing the nation proud.

An ejection system makes space missions possible by separating the satellite from the launch vehicle and placing it in a precise orbit. The mechanism went through rigorous tests before certification by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram.

The same IIT-K department came up with a matchbox-sized device to monitor wear and tear of rail tracks in real time and prevent derailment. It may possibly replace the bulky, box-like contraption in current use by Indian Railways, which requires a special coach.

The size of the device makes it simpler to integrate it with the existing railway infrastructure, according to Kshitij Deo, an M. Tech in mechanical engineering, who developed the device with three others of IIT-K.

The country caught the world's attention by launching the world's cheapest ever android tablet, Aakash, costing only $35, in October. Nerds from IIT-Rajasthan, the youngest of the lot, working with London-based DataWind, came up with the amazing piece of technology.

The tablet, developed to link 25,000 colleges and 400 universities in an e-learning programme, features a seven-inch touch screen and 256 metabytes of RAM, a multi-media platform with Android 2.2 operating system and is capable of delivering high definition video. China will be manufacturing a commercial version and marketing it as the UbiSlate at a cost of $60.

If the Indian tablet made news, supercomputers were not far behind. On May 2, the country's fastest supercomputer SAGA-220 became operational at the VSSC. It is capable of 220 TeraFLOPS or 220 trillion floating point operations per second. Scientists are harnessing its peak power to solve complex space-related matters.

Meanwhile, The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honoured an Indian physicist, Mohammed Sami, by including his work among the 31 Nobel citations, known as the scientific document on the Nobel Prize in Physics 2011. Sami co-authored the paper on dark matter with Edmund J. Copeland and Shinji Tsujikawa at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, in 2002-05.