NEW DELHI: Aiming to develop a method to predict collision from space debris,Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Delhi, has received research funding from the National Super Computing Mission (NSM), implemented by the department of science and technology (DST).
The project titled ‘Orbit computation of Resident Space Objects for Space Situational Awareness’ has to be completed in two years. The project will be led by IIIT-Delhi faculty Sanat K Biswas and Arun Balaji Buduru.
Elaborating on the project, Biswas said, “There are more than 20,000 man-made objects of more than 10 cm in size floating around in near-earth space that pose collision threats to functional satellites. Predicting collision probability from these space objects is crucial from the national security perspective as well as for the protection of public and private space assets of Indian origin.”
He said that the “outcome of this project will directly support the Indian space sector, valued at $7 billion (Rs 51,334 crore) by providing an operationally flexible, scalable, transparent and indigenous collision probability solution.”
Space debris poses a global threat to the continued use of space-based technologies that support critical functions like communication, transport, weather and climate monitoring, remote sensing.
Academia, industries and space agencies around the world are working diligently to address this issue. Through this project, IIIT-Delhi will contribute to the global effort towards space sustainability, its statement said. The NSM project is being implemented by the DST in collaboration with the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeITy) to ensure the country’s leadership in supercomputing.
The real amount of space debris is said to be between 500,000 and one million pieces as current sensor technology cannot detect smaller objects. They all travel at speeds of up to 17,500 mph (28,162 kmph) fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.
India has over 50 functional satellites in space. It’s also planning to launch its own space station in the coming years. To safeguard its space assets from space debris, Isro had set up a dedicated Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Control Centre named “Netra” in Bengaluru last December. Netra’s key objective is to monitor, track and protect the national space assets and function as a hub of all SSA activities.
Only the US, Russia and Europe have similar facilities in place to track space objects and share collision warnings. Once Netra is fully functional, India won’t be dependent on the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) for tracking space objects.