Published: 02nd February 2021
Rupesh Mahore — commit this 23-year-old NIT Rourkela student's name to memory as he is going to take Astrophysics by storm
Rupesh Mahore and his friends started Spacegrade Inc to work in the field of Astrophysics and have come up with a slew of solutions. They currently study at NIT Rourkela, Odisha and are rearing to go
Somewhere between being enraptured by Physics and developing an inclination for Astrophysics, Rupesh Mahore discovered his purpose. And the fact that in his very first year at NIT Rourkela he started getting involved in small research projects gave his research ambitions a bigger boost. From the Department of Nanotech at IIT Guwahati to Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Kolkata, he was already finding as much work as he could. But it was when he was interning with ISRO for the Chandrayaan-2 mission that he was left wide-eyed with wonder. "I was at the launch site of Chandrayaan-2 and I felt the propulsion of the craft in the atmosphere. It was a different kind of energy altogether," says the 23-year-old in an attempt to describe that palpable feeling that drives him every day. Feeding off this feeling, he joined hands with friends Gunendra Mahore and Shantanu Kore to launch the start-up Spacegrade Inc in October 2019 in their quest to develop solutions for space technology with the power of AI and ML.
In the future, they want to work in the field of molecular dynamics, simulation technology used in astrophysics
Here's is where we should mention the Planck Physics Society started by Rupesh and Shantanu under which they organise guest lectures at NIT. The most successful one they have organised was with Gabe Gabriel, former Engineer Programmer for the Kennedy Space Centre, NASA. "It was a wonderful event with people not just from our institute but also from DRDO and other parts of Rourkela attending," says the youngster who is pursuing a five-year Integrated MSc in Physics and is currently in his fourth year. Actually, it was in another discussion with Gabriel that he encouraged students to work on AI and ML-assisted projects for space applications.
READ ALSO: ISRO's first 2021 mission will have three satellites made by Indian students and start-ups
They are working on three projects now, one more exciting than the other. Keep reading and you'll see for yourself.
Co-founders | (Pic: Spacegrade Inc)
Sweeping through space
Dead satellites, orbiters shredded into pieces are just the beginning of the debris floating around in space at this very moment. It actually poses a monumental problem and Rupesh tells us why. "They travel at the speed of 20,000 km per hour and that could harm existing satellites and missions," says the youngster. And where there is a problem, there is scope for a solution. Thus, they joined forces with Hyoristic Innovations, a space start-up based out of Chennai, providing Research and Development support for debris mitigation. It's all about tracking the different sizes of debris and capturing them.
Working within limits
With spacecrafts, there is always the limitation of space, volume restriction to be specific. There are all kinds of fluids, gases and lubricants that need to be supplied from one part of the craft to another and for this, tiny micropumps or micro propulsions are required. Hence, they are designing PZT-actuated micropumps for space application and these, we are told, are as small as a coin. "When we pass electricity or voltage through it, it creates a pumping action," explains Rupesh. Their preliminary research work was accepted at the International Conference on Nano and Materials Science 2021 at Georgia Tech and IEEE-ICEE 2020 at IIT Delhi.
Rupesh is currently a project intern at Harvard University under Prof Anna Lappala from the Department of Molecular Biology. Previously, he has worked with Padma Shri awardee Prof HC Verma at IIT Kanpur
Which solution would you choose?
Last year, when ISRO issued a clarion call that it was accepting proposals for 17 topics for its next mission, the team at Spacegrade Inc knew that they had to jump right into it. And with the help of Prof RK Biswal from the Department of Humanity Sciences at NIT Rourkela, they have taken up the psychological tests that the astronaut goes through pre, during and post human spaceflights. "For example, during the test, based on their facial expression during the isolation and confinement phases, we try to test how they are doing. And after, we test the ill effects of the flight," informs Rupesh. With the help of the only Indian who has been to space, Rakesh Sharma, they have already started working on this project last month.
Go Corona, go!
With regards to the COVID crisis specifically, the team designed a Hexafunctional Autonomous Robotic Cart (HARC) which can be remotely controlled and can perform up to six functions, like delivering medicines and taking someone's temperature. They presented a paper on this at the International Conference on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence at IIT Madras in December 2020 and supplied the device to a few hospitals in and around Rourkela.
In a webinar with Jim Cantrell, Co-founder, SpaceX and Dr Goutam Chattopadhyay, Senior Scientist at NASA-JPL | (Pic: Spacegrade Inc)
For more o him, check out linkedin.com/in/rupesh-mahore-83499712a/