Aryabhata is a well-known wonder. Satellites, a technology that changed the cards of communication, remote sensing, navigation, geodesy, weather forecast, oceanography, mineralogy, and much more. The birds-eye view that satellites have allows us to see a large part of the Earth at one time. It gathers more precise data of space than the ground telescopes because satellites orbits above the clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere that can block the view from ground levels.
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Recognising the immense potential of satellite technology for providing a quantum jump in national development, ISRO initiated research in this area in 1963. The research organization embarked upon setting upon a systematic program for the design, fabrication, and in-orbit operation of artificial earth satellites for scientific and application missions. Moving forward with this aim, ISRO signed an agreement with the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1972. As a follow-up to this agreement the ISRO Satellite Systems Project was established at Peenya village on the outskirts of Bengaluru.
The satellite was made in a quasispherical shape, with 26 flat faces, and weighed 360 Kgs with an equivalent diameter of 1.59 meters in the equatorial plane and a height of 1.19 meters. The satellite was powered by rechargeable Ni-Cd chemical batteries and silicon solar panels mounted around its body. The satellite employed more than 12,000 active and passive electronic components in addition to 20,000 solar cells and more than 25,000 inter-connections within the satellite. Aryabhata was the first satellite that has used the low-power Cosmos integrated circuits on a large scale.
The Mission Objectives:
The main objectives of the Aryabhata mission were:
- Indigenous design and fabrication of a satellite system and evaluation of its performance in orbit.
- Setting up the necessary ground-based receiving, transmitting, and tracking systems.
- Conducting a series of complex operations on the satellite in its orbital phase.
Operations and Experiments:
Aryabhata was successfully launched into near-earth orbit on 19th April 1975. During the preliminary phase, it was controlled from the ground station at Bears Lake, USSR, and during the conventional phase from the Sriharikota (SHAR). The satellite conducted three scientific operations; one onThe satellite conducted three scientific operations; one on X-ray Astronomy, the second Observing Solar neutrons and Gamma rays, and the third on Aeronomy.
The experiment was designed for the investigations of celestial X-ray sources primarily concerning their time variation effects in the energy range of 2.5 KeV – 150 KeV. A proportional counter telescope of 15 square centimetres of effective area and a NaI scintillator telescope with an effective area of 11.4 square centimetres were employed to enable observations.
Solar neutrons and Gamma rays:
The experiment was primarily designed to detect high-energy neutrons in the range of 10 – 500 MeV and gamma-rays in the range of 0.2 – 20 MeV from the Sun both during quiet times and emitting flares. The basic detector was a 12.5 cm diameter CsI scintillator of 1.25cm thickness.
The experiment consisted of a retarded potential analyzer for the detection of supra-thermal electrons up to 100 eV and two UV chambers to measure the intensities of Lyman alpha (1216 Å) and oxygen line (1304 Å) at the F-region i.e. the highest region of the ionosphere (altitudes greater than 160 km).
In addition to the regular operations, some technological experiments were also carried out. These technological experiments were essentially based on the use of onboard telecommand and transmitter in the transponder mode for transmitting data from one station to another through the satellite.
In the first instance, a voice transmission experiment was performed wherein recorded speech was transmitted from Sriharikota (SHAR) and received at Bengaluru. Subsequently, the electrocardiogram (ECG) signals were transmitted from SHAR and received at Bengaluru. The results were quite reassuring and demonstrated the feasibility of extending medical help in remote areas. The third experiment involved the transmission of weather data like temperature, wind speed, etc, from a standard data collection platform through the satellite. The data collection platform was set up at SHAR with the assistance of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). The experiment was successfully conducted and the results were within the limits of accuracy required for meteorological purposes.
Overwhelmed by the success of the Aryabhata, ISRO launched over 20 satellites in the coming years, which includes Bhaskara, APPLE, Rohini, INSAT-1, and INSAT-2 series of multipurpose satellites.
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