Monday, October 4, 2010

Groundstation..... What is it all about?

         ‘Satellite’ ‘Antenna’ ‘Polarization’ these are words and images that we come across in textbooks or  otherwise, but... how would it be to go beyond theory and bring these words to life?   That’s exactly what this project is about! It’s a platform where we practically interact and learn about things which we can only imagine in theory!! To set up a ‘Ground-Station’ in college is a unique opportunity and through this blog we want to share all that we learn and experience.
            So what exactly do we do at ‘ground station’?
First of all we are currently busy setting up the satellite ground station which includes designing and Fabricating Antennas.  The antennae will receive the signal from "PRATHAM" the first student satellite that IIT-Bombay is launching.
           Now that the signal has been received, it needs to be processed (that is reducing the noise) and demodulated. This would be done by a set of circuitry including special chips which we may never learn about in textbooks.
          You may be wondering what information the received signal will contain. Well, the signal transmitted by the satellite and received by the groundstation is itself used for calculation of TEC i.e total electron content  in the atmosphere.It basically helps in error detecton and correction in GPS. Find out more about TEC and signals to be received.
         The satellite would be making a pass over Mumbai twice a day (once in the morning and once at night) and the pass would be only about 10minute duration. In order to recieve maximum data from the signal transmitted, the antennas would have to track the satellite (similar to how the sunflower moves with the orientation of the sun) Now the sunflower has a biological mechanism to track the sun…
                         How then is the antenna supposed to move as per the satellite?
The answer is an antenna rotator interfaced with a satellite-tracking software. And the result is a system of antennas mounted on rotor moving autonomously as guided by the software! It would surely be a spectacle to watch!!
          Being the first blog, it’s just an overview and index to how to get to know the ground station better. In the following blogs we would describe our experiences (which taught us much more than just technical stuff) and also update about the latest developments.
        And ya, before signing off, we welcome suggestions, queries, ideas, or whatever you may have to say because the core intent behind this project is learning and sharing all that we learn...
         Looking forward to intelligent interaction...

Team Ground-Station,
Atharva College Of Engineering.