Now you 'can' build, launch satellites at Rs 7,000

Now you 'can' build, launch satellites at Rs 7,000

Students in the city are building satellites out of soft drink cans and using them to measure the green cover of the city and to monitor its lakes. Thanks to the efforts of Suraj Jana, a city-based engineer-turned-social entrepreneur, who is teaching students to build satellites as part of the ‘CanSat Development Programme’ in India.
A CanSat is a simulative model of an original satellite and is built by integrating the required major subsystems into a 350 ml soft drink can. Jana is the founder of OpenCube Labs, one of the first amateur space startups in India.

Jana has collaborated on various projects for measuring green density, lake monitoring and temperature measuring among others with governments and non-profit organisations across the country.

A CanSat comprises of a battery, a microprocessor and secondary subsystem or payload that is attached to the CanSat to carry out its mission. The various kinds of payload that can be attached to a CanSat include Barometers, specialised cameras, GPS receiver, electronic compass, accelerometer among others depending on the function the satellite is required to carry out.
The microcontrollers used in the CanSat are open source in nature that include Arduino and Raspberry Pi. The CanSat is then launched to an altitude of a hundreds or a few thousand metres by a rocket balloon after which it begins its mission of carrying out a specific experiment or capturing data. The satellite makes a landing using a parachute.

The satellites are launched in an open field. It is mandatory that the area of launch is not close to an airport or a military base. Most of our satellite launches are tethered launches that are carried out in BMS Institute of Technology campus in Yelahanka,”said Jana.
“The concept of CanSat was first introduced by Robert Twiggs, a professor at Stanford University in late 1990s. CanSats are used to teach space technology in classrooms owing to their small volume and inexpensive nature. It only costs between Rs 6000-7000 to launch a CanSat,”said Jana who has conducted workshops in schools, colleges and institutions across the country.

Jana also collaborates with non-profits, governments and civic bodies to address issues related to climate change in the city.

The data collected by the CanSats include temperature, pollution levels, UV penetration, traffic congestion intensity, air and water quality among others. Jana and his team have successfully used their satellite to predict earthquakes and tsunamis in Chennai and Chile in South America.

“The data is immensely useful in research purposes and can be effectively used by civic bodies and research institution for devising effective solutions and better policies,”said Jana who studied computer engineering from BMS Institute of Technology.

Jana initiated the CanSat development programme in 2014 with an aim to provide students with an experience of small-scale space experiments through his workshops. Through the workshops Jana and his team teach students to build, operate and launch satellites.

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