The ground station is part of IIST’s Small-spacecraft Systems and PAyload CEntre (SSPACE). Sudharshan Kaarthik R, associate professor (avionics) told TOI during an exclusive visit to the institute that the ground station is currently capable of telemetry and telecommand in the VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultra high frequency) frequencies and receive payload data in the S-band.
“The VHF and UHF band use Yagi antenna for operations and can fully track the LEO satellites automatically during the pass over the ground station. The S-band antenna is made of 4.5 metre dish and is also capable of receiving high speed payload data from the LEO satellites,” he said.
At present the ground station is being used to track and command satellites launched by IIST — like the student satellite, INSPIRESat-1 — and also to download data. Students and faculty members are also downloading data from various payloads that went onboard PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) as part of different Isro missions.
IIST registrar Prof Kuruvilla Joseph said that the ground station will be expanded to receive X-band signals for very high bandwidth requirements.
“In addition, phased array antennas will be used in the future to avoid mechanical rotation of the antenna by using the beamforming feature. The ground station will also be expanded for supporting satellite ranging operations using radar based technologies, and CDMA ranging technologies. Aside from our students and faculty, the idea is to open this up for startups,” Joseph said.
During the visit TOI found a team from Dhruva Space working at the ground station to download data from its P-30 Satellite Platform space-qualified on the recent POEM mission launched on January 1. The platform was launched as ‘Launching Expeditions for Aspiring Payloads-Technology Demonstrator’ or LEAP-TD. The mission validated the P-30 platform and its various subsystems in-orbit.
Dhruva Space CEO Sanjay Nekkanti told TOI: “The success of the mission was confirmed by reception of Telemetry & Beacon data at the IIST ground station, whose facility we have used. We not only welcome the institute’s decision to expand the facility and open it up further for startups, but are also in discussion to participate in a larger way.”
Joseph reiterated that the station, fully operational to carry out tracking, telemetry and commanding (TT&C) operations of many of our satellite missions, was completely built in-house with guidance from Isro. “This demonstrates the kind of opportunities students at IIST get, which is unrivalled. Not only do they focus on learning core subjects and carry out R&D, but are also part of building such technologies hands-on,” he said.