Monday May 21, 2018
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Move over GPS: Here’s why you should be thankful to ISRO for developing IRNSS

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By Santosh Dubey

Today, most smartphones are equipped with navigation devices but most people do not know that the signals on these handsets are generated through satellites that are controlled by America. Global Positioning System or GPS as we know it, is operated and maintained by the US Air Force.

This means, that all your movements could be easily tracked down by the people sitting in the United States, and if need be, they can easily manipulate the navigation system which you use.

Feeling the need of having our own navigation system, country’s premier space agency ISRO came up with Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). IRNSS is a constellation of seven satellites of which four are already placed in the orbit.

The fourth satellite of the  IRNSS-1D series was put into orbit on March 28 from Sirharikota using the PSLV C-27  . With this launch, India joined the select club of six that have the indigenous capability of generating their satellite-based navigation signals within 20 minutes.

Earlier,  IRNSS-1A, 1B and 1C, the first three satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on July 02, 2013, April 04, 2014 and October 16, 2014 respectively. All the three satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.

With this launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation can soon start operations of India’s own version of the  GPS, useful in everyday life for navigation. But unlike GPS, IRNSS-1D will not have its coverage worldwide.

Reach of IRNSS-1D

Its area of coverage is 1500 kms beyond Indian boundaries, mostly focusing on SAARC region. The satellite will also help the nation in mineral exploration. This Indian technology is most needed by India’s armed forces for precision guidance.  Not only this, the navigation system has an accuracy of less than 20 meters, which is comparable to the best in the world.

“This is the fourth satellite in a constellation of seven and it now gives India the indigenous capability for a satellite-based navigation system, this will help the common man. This will also help India helping the SAARC countries getting the benefits of satellite technology as the signals can help them as well,” said  Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in Prime Minister’s Office and Minister for Space.

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ISRO’s successful journey

This is not the first time that Indian space research organisation has achieved such success. ISRO has also installed a Multi Object Tracking Radar at a cost of Rs. 245 crore for which trials would be conducted soon.

Apart from this, a reusable launch vehicle would be tested this year as a technology demonstrator.

The recent success of Indian space technology will not only benefit Indian defence but, it will add wings to the life of almost every Indians. The Indian space agency says,  “Very soon India’s own ‘GPS’ system will become operational, which would be an useful addition for the common man, but most needed by the Indian armed forces as it will give them the much needed strategic depth.”

Significance of IRNSS

  • IRNSS will focus on the region — up to 1,500 km beyond India’s boundaries, between longitude 40° E and 140° E, and latitude ± 40°.
  • IRNSS will provide positional accuracies similar to the GPS: 10 m over the Indian landmass, 20 m over the Indian Ocean. As is the case with GPS and the US military, IRNSS will provide a more accurate restricted service for the Indian armed forces and other special authorised users.
  • It will provide terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture.
  • Crucial use will be for Indian armed forces, who can rely on assured positional data during hostilities. Most modern weapon systems like guided missiles and bombs use navigation systems for targeting. An indigenous system like the IRNSS will ensure reliable development and execution of such capabilities.

IRNSS is a strategic requirement for modern war-fighting. Because access to foreign government-controlled navigation satellite systems such as the American GPS or EU’s Galileo is not guaranteed during hostilities — as experienced by India during the Kargil war.

 

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Quantum Technology is The New Limit of Indian Scientists

The scheme, DST says, "promises to revolutionise the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have huge impact on the nation and our society as a whole".

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Thanks to government funding, Indian physicists are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.
Quantum-Representational Image,

Thanks to government funding, Indian physicists are preparing for a deep dive into the quantum world that holds the secrets for developing exciting technologies for computing, communication, cryptography and many more.

Schemes for making India a major player in quantum technologies were deliberated during a five-day international conference on “Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals” at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) here.

Sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation, the philanthropic organisation in the US, it was attended by eminent physicists from India and abroad, including several research students from India with a total number of around 100 participants, reflecting the significant growth in the research community in this area in our country.

“This is an interesting conference, blending quantum fundamentals aspects with applications, and is unique in its mandate as we have tried to provide equal emphasis to both theoretical research and experimental quantum technologies,” Urbasi Sinha, of RRI and organiser of the conference, told this correspondent. Dipankar Home of the Bose Institute, Kolkata, and Alexandre Matzkin of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris were the co-organisers.

Quantum physics is a basic theory in physics that deals with the behaviour of matter and light on the atomic and subatomic scale. Quantum technology exploits the weird properties of quantum mechanics — especially quantum entanglement, quantum superposition and quantum tunnelling — into practical applications for computing, cryptography and “secure” communication. Quantum computers that process “quantum data” (instead of binary data) are predicted to be faster than today’s largest classical computer.

Research in these areas at Indian laboratories has received a boost with promised funding support from the government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), as well as small individual projects from the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Prime Minister’s Office.

The DST’s Mission-Mode scheme, called “Quantum Science and Technology (QuST)”, will fund research “for the development and demonstration” of quantum computers, quantum communication and cryptography, besides “demonstration of quantum teleportation”.

The scheme, DST says, “promises to revolutionise the future computation and communication systems which will ultimately have huge impact on the nation and our society as a whole”.

The DST initiative has received overwhelming response and “has already received 128 proposals from researchers from different parts of the country,” Rajeev Sharma, a spokesperson for the scheme at DST, told this correspondent. “Funding is no problem,” he said.

ISRO, in collaboration with RRI, has initiated a mega project called “Quantum Experiments Using Satellite Technology (QUEST)”. Sinha, along with members of her “Quantum Information and Computing Lab” and theory colleagues at RRI, will play a key role in developing these technologies in the coming years, with support from ISRO.

Schemes for making India a major player in quantum technologies were deliberated during a five-day international conference on "Quantum Frontiers and Fundamentals" at the Raman Research Institute (RRI) here.
Quatum Tech to get a boost in India, Pixabay

“Once RRI is ready with an experimental payload, we will launch it on board one of our satellite missions,” M. Sankaran, deputy director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bengaluru and one of the conference participants, told this correspondent.

According to Sinha, one of her first experiments “will be a collaborative effort with the ‘Quantum Photonics Lab’ at Ontario’s University of Waterloo” that will aim to establish “a secure Quantum Key Distribution link” between India and Canada.

“It is good that both DST and ISRO have decided to fund research in this important area,” said Arun Kumar Pati, a leading researcher in quantum physics at the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad and a conference participant. “We are 10 years behind and have to catch up.”

Also Read: itel pips Samsung, Turns Fastest Growing Brand in Bangladesh 

Using its world’s first quantum satellite called “Micius”, China had already demonstrated transmission of images from the country to Austria and researchers at the National University of Singapore had built a nano-satellite with a quantum communication payload. Scientists of the University of Waterloo have also demonstrated the first quantum key distribution transmissions from a ground transmitter to a quantum payload on a moving aircraft.

The conference suggested the formation in India of a society for quantum information scientists. It also called for greater thrust to experimental research and an increase in the pool of researchers in the area of quantum technologies. (IANS)