KOCHI: Into its eleventh year, the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), ISRO’s academy at Valiyamala, is going places. After launching India’s first students’ sounding rocket in 2012, the IIST is now developing payloads for the proposed Mars Orbiter Mission 2 (MOM-2/Mangalyaan-2) as well as the Venus mission which is under discussion.
The payloads are being developed by the new Space Satellite Systems and PAyloads CEntre (SSPACE) which is being established at IIST, institute director V K Dadhwal said. SSPACE will equip students and faculty to undertake interdisciplinary activities in space science and spacecraft technology and aid IIST’s collaborations on space tech projects with institutes abroad.
The SSPACE group is developing an ionosphere plasma probe christened ARIS for MOM-2. The engineering model and high vacuum test have been successfully completed. The IIST has also proposed a nanosatellite and a Retarding Potential Analyser (RPA) payload for the under-discussion Venus Orbiter Mission, Dadhwal said. Although the Venus mission is yet to receive the final go-ahead, the payload proposal prepared by IIST students has won appreciation from top ISRO brass. IIST has also begun work on three student satellite projects with an international tie-up.
IIST will build the command and data handling system and flight software for InspireSat-1 under the University of Colorado’s International Satellite Program in Research and Education (INSPIRE). IIST has also designed a future space telescope jointly with the Cambridge University to study the atmosphere of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system).
IIST was opened in 2007 to address the acute human resource crunch faced by ISRO. Since its inception, 775 IIST candidates have been absorbed into various units of the space agency. As many as 69 of the latest outgoing batch have qualified for ISRO jobs.