Published: 20th June 2018
At 33.3 gms. Chennai students from HITS build world's lightest satellite ever!
The team from HITS built the satellite and entered it in a NASA competition. It will be field tested in a couple of months
Four students of Hindustan Institute of Technology and Science, Chennai have just made history by building the world's lightest and most cost-effective satellite - the patriotically named JAIHIND-1S.
Amarnath P, Giri Prasad T, Sudhi G and Hari Krishnan K J — the team leader, who are currently pursuing their first year B Tech in Aerospace Engineering built this satellite as part of 'Cubes in Space', a contest conducted by NASA's Colorado Space Grant Consortium and idoodle learning, an educational platform. The contest requires students below the age of 18 to send in proposals for any experiment that can be sent into space or a near space environment.
The satellite measures nearly 20 parameters like temperature, air pressure, humidity and vapour pressure for analysing weather conditions, gyro values for trajectory, stress and strain value for analysing nylon condition in microgravity. It also helps understand how phenomena like cloudbursts happen.
The competition received thousands of applications from all across the world and only the best 100 were selected for flight. Moreover, JAIHIND-1S was the only 'satellite' that was selected. Not only is the satellite lightweight (33.36 grams), it also has high endurance. The main objective of the satellite is to check the weather conditions, trajectory and characteristics of nylon.
Dream team: The team members Amarnath P, Giri Prasad T, Sudhi G and Hari Krishnan K J
Describing the process of building the satellite, Hari Krishnan says, "We had some onboard computers and sensor modules to obstruct the data and it was stored in a storage device. Later it was constructed using 3D printed PLA Nylon. When asked whether it was a challenge to make it lightweight, he says, "The biggest challenge was that we had to look for lightweight sensors which weren't readily available in India. So we had to ship it from other countries. However, we also wanted to make it cost-effective. The whole construction cost us only about Rs 15,000."
"We planned to create our own satellite and submitted the proposal by late January. Our experiment was selected and accepted for flight. It will be balloon-launched by NASA in August," says Hari Krishnan, further explaining that a balloon launch is basically a high-pressure helium balloon that goes up to an altitude of 45-75 km (troposphere), and when it reaches the low pressure, the balloon bursts and the load experiences micro-gravity for a few hours and then falls back to earth.
The satellite has received a weight authentication certificate from IIT-Madras stating its weight as 33.36 grams. "Last year another team from India had won the record for building the world's lightest satellite which was about 64 grams. But JAIHIND-1S is half the weight and has double the endurance," Hari Krishnan adds.