Cabinet nod for gravity wave observatory

LIGO-India project has been pending for the past 5 years

Cabinet nod for gravity wave observatory

A week after the discovery of gravity waves involving a large team of Indian scientists, the union cabinet on Wednesday has given its approval “in-principle” to set up an Indian gravity wave observatory.

The move will aid scientists undertake cutting-edge research in astronomy. The LIGO-India project (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in India) will establish a state-of-the-art gravitational wave observatory in India in collaboration with the LIGO Laboratory in the US run by Caltech and MIT.

Piloted by the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Science and Technology, the Rs 1,260-crore proposal, known as LIGO-India project, has been pending for the past five years.

The clearance from the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, however, only in-principle as DST and DAE are likely to submit an updated proposal after recalculating the project cost and finalising the site. This may take several months.

Scientists shortlisted four sites in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where environmental surveys are being carried out. Almost 300 acres of land is required to set up the Indian observatory for which the USA will provide the main detector.

LIGO-India will also bring considerable opportunities in cutting-edge technology for the Indian industry which will be engaged in the construction of eight-km long beam tube at ultra-high vacuum on a levelled terrain. The scientists already have shared their requirement with the industry, which is upbeat about the project.

The site will have to be free from human disturbances shaking the earth. There should not be any railway line, airport, mining activity of heavy-industry nearby, but also it should not be too far off, making it inaccessible for researchers.

The Indian observatory would be managed by Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, Institute for Plasma Research in Gandhinagar and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore. However, there is a consortium involving 16 Indian institutions as of now that would carry out the scientific research involving the Indian LIGO detector. 

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