A scientist from ISRO who started his invention using a humble plastic mug and a Teflon wire, and went on to design a key device was awarded for his indigenous creation at the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) on Tuesday, along with others. The device, little bigger than a paper pin is saving fuel onboard the Mars Orbiter
“It is a wonderful thought to think that something that you made is about to reach Mars,” Joji Chaman, group head, Mechanical Design and Production, ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), Thiruvanathapuram said after receiving the Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research Award 2013.
Recounting the journey, Chaman told The Indian Express that he had started developing the device called the Ceramic Servo Accelerometer in 2003, with a simple plastic mug and a Teflon wire “as the only investments”. The device that presently weighs only 50 grams, not only saves fuel, but also measures acceleration, velocity and position of the spacecraft. This device was part of the Chandrayaan-1, and an improved version is now part of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) which is scheduled to reach Mars on September 24.
This Ceramic Servo Accelerometer will be performing a crucial function in the coming weeks when the MOM spacecraft or the Mangalyaan slows down and tries to enter the orbit of the red-planet, Chaman said. The device will come in to play when the spacecraft will be slowed down at a rate of one kilometer per second. The spacecraft will enter the martian orbit on September 24.
“This award is not only for me, but for the entire team (about ten members) who worked on this device,” he added. The scientist was bestowed the award in the space application category for his innovative and outstanding contributions in inertial navigation system for spacecrafts deployed for terrestrial and planetary missions. Apart from Chaman, others who received the award on Tuesday include Dr Tarun Kumar Pant who was recognised for his work in space sciences. He had obtained his PhD from Gujarat University and is currently at the Space Physics Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram.
Souvik Mahapatra, a professor at department of Electrical Engineering, IIT-Bombay and Ranjan Bose, a Microsoft chair professor at IIT-Delhi were among the awardees.