The city-based Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) was on Tuesday bestowed with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) milestone recognition. GMRT is one of the largest radio telescopes in the world that has been operating in low frequencies for over two decades and has made significant contributions to astrophysics.
This is only the third time an Indian facility has recieved this milestone, after J C Bose’s demonstration of generation and reception of radio waves in 1895 and the discovery of the Raman Effect by C V Raman in 1928. However, IEEE recognitions to these had come in 2012. The IEEE milestone for GMRT was announced in November last year.
The IEEE is the world’s largest technical body publishing research in engineering and computing in addition to awarding standards to institutions and organsiations involved in these fields.
The Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)-National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) operates the GMRT, an array of 30 antennas installed in Khodad village of Junnar taluka in Pune.
Led by the late Prof Govind Swarup, a team of scientists and engineers conceived the GMRT in the 1990s to study our universe. Operational since 2000, this indigenously built facility is used by India and scientists from over 40 countries. It recently underwent an upgrade and has improved in sensitivity and offers a wider frequency for carrying out celestial observations.
K N Vyas, secretary, Department of Atomic Energy, read out Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s letter congratulating the scientists.
In his message, Modi said, “The rare feat by the NCRA-TIFR that has built and runs GMRT has made the nation proud. Our astronomers’ contribution towards a deeper understanding of the celestial phenomenon of the universe has been phenomenal. GMRT surely marks a continuation of this magnificent practice as one of the most sensitive radio observatories in the world, which is used by astronomers all over the globe.”
Members of IEEE Pune handed over the IEEE plaque to Prof Yashwant Gupta, NCRA director, and Jayaram Chengalur, dean, NCRA faculty, on the day.
Prof K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, said, “The GMRT reflected the daring and ambitions of the pioneers in India, who built institutions and facilities of this kind…Now in the times of globalisation, when there are multiple and easily available aspects of technology which can be purchased, we need to reinvent our commitment to thinking technology development in a manner which is adventurous, pathbreaking and valuable to India and the world.”
Nuclear scientist Anil Kakodkar recalled his first interaction with Swarup and said that a facility like GMRT had demonstrated India’s capacity in the field of instrument building.
K Kasturirangan, former chief of ISRO, said in a video message, “The IEEE recognition goes to India’s high level of expertise in electronics. The uGMRT (upgraded GMRT) should open more windows to newer research.”
While Japan holds the top position with the maximum IEEE recognitions in the world, scientist RA Mashelkar suggested that India, too, needs to improve.