New Delhi: The nnew low-cost star detector developed by astronomers from off-the-shelf components recently launched by ISRO aboard PSLV C-55. In its first space test, the sensor mounted on the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) is performing well, with initial data now confirming its design and function.
Developed by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), an autonomous institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the StarBerrySense payload was launched on April 22. This new low-cost sensor, designed to quickly calculate where a satellite is pointing, is being tested in space for the first time. Astronomers at the institute’s Space Payloads Group announced that StarBerrySense has not only withstood the harsh conditions of space and is performing as expected, but initial data shows that it can also calculate the direction of the pointer.
Knowing where the satellite is pointing at any given time is crucial for any space mission. Although there are several ways to do this, the star sensor provides the most accurate information about the orientation of the spacecraft. Designed by the IIA’s Space Payloads Group, the launch sensor can find the pointer’s direction in space by identifying the stars in its field of view. “This payload is built around the well-known RaspberryPi minicomputer, with the electronics and software designed in-house,” said Bharat Chandra, the project’s technical lead and Ph.D. student at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. “The advantage of this payload is that it is cost-effective, easy to build, and can be deployed on a wide variety of satellites,” he added.
“StarBerrySense has been mounted on ISRO’s PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM), which provides a stable platform for the operation of our payload. POEM is a unique initiative of ISRO that uses the spent 4th stage of PSLV as an orbital platform to carry out scientific experiments. This is an excellent opportunity to conduct short-duration scientific experiments in space,” said Rekhesh Mohan, principal investigator. from the StarBerrySense project.
The primary objective was to assess survivability and performance in space. “The flight qualification tests were conducted at the MGK Menon Space Science Laboratory located on the CREST campus. of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Hosakote. The sky imaging tests were conducted at our Vainu Bappu Observatory,” said Binukumar, former IIA visiting scientist and member of the StarBerrySense team. “In the days following launch, we verified that StarBerrySense was performing as expected in space,” said Shubham Ghatul, a Ph.D. student on the team.
The main function of StarBerrySense is to map the field of view, correctly identify the stars seen and calculate the direction of the pointer. Shubhangi Jain, Ph.D., “Preliminary data analysis confirmed that the imaging equipment is working as expected and that the onboard software can calculate the pointing direction,” said one of the team’s students. “Using images from the payload, we check its accuracy by comparing it with data from international databases,” added Mahesh Babu, the team’s electronics engineer.
“Working with the PSLV team has been a great learning experience for the entire team. IN-SPACe’s guidance and support has also been invaluable in this successful venture,” added Rekhesh Mohan. The team also includes Margarita Safonova (DST Woman-Scientist) and Jayant Murthy (guest professor).
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