GMRT gets IEEE recognition for space exploration

India's GMRT gets IEEE recognition for contributions in exploring the universe

It is the third Indian project in 125 years to get such a recognition

An array of the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope. Credit: DH.

India's biggest radio telescope outside Pune has received a global recognition that in the last 125 years came to only two Indian scientific projects one of which led to a Nobel Prize while the second one was modern India’s first scientific breakthrough.

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, one of the world’s largest and most sensitive low frequency radio observatories, has been recognised by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) under its Milestone Programme for its contributions in exploring the universe through the radio waves.

The previous two IEEE milestones from India (both recognized in 2012) are for the pioneering work done by Sir J C Bose to demonstrate the generation and reception of radio waves in 1895, and for the Nobel prize winning discovery by Sir C V Raman in 1928.

In fact, it's only after the IEEE recognition, there was a renewed global admission of Sir J C Bose’s pioneering contribution on wireless communication particularly in the millimetre wave transmission that is increasingly becoming relevant with 5G technology.

Sir C V Raman and K S Krishnan’s 92 year old experiment at Kolkata’s Indian Association for Cultivation of Science that led to the discovery of the Raman Effect was the other IEEE milestone in India. In contrast Japan has 34 IEEE Milestone projects – the highest in Asia.

The IEEE recognises such landmarks in the global pursuit of excellence in science and engineering which have significantly advanced technology for the benefit of humanity on the basis of a historical perspective and extensive documentation. Also the science facility or experiment has to serve humanity at least for 25 years.

"The next in line is Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, which has been supplying electricity since 1897. We are now working on the documentation. There are 15 other Indian proposals under various stages of considerations,” Harish Mysore, senior director, IEEE India told DH.

Another project that may come under IEEE Milestone consideration is Karnataka’s Sir Sheshadri Memorial Hydroelectric programme that was set up in 1904 to supply electricity to the Kolar gold field and Mysore city just four years after the discovery of the incandescent bulb.

Consisting of an array of 30 antennas of 45 m diameter each at a place 80 km from Pune, GMRT was being used by the astronomers since the last three decades. It pioneered new techniques in antenna design, receiver systems, and signal transport over optical fiber and led to important discoveries on pulsars, supernovae, galaxies, quasars, and cosmology, greatly enhancing human understanding of the universe.

“After nearly 14 months of work on documentation, it was indeed a very proud and special moment for us when the IEEE board granted the recognition on November 23,” said Yashwant Gupta, director, National Centre for Radio Astronomy, Pune which runs the GMRT.