Students from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) are developing a satellite that will predict earthquakes from space. Akshay Gulati, Project head, started developing IITMSAT way back in 2009, while he was pursuing a five-year integrated M Tech from IIT-M. Gulati said, “IITMSAT took a long time to finish, just some minor fixes are to be made before we submit it to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).” IIT-M is expected to submit the satellite to ISRO by mid-2017. Recently, on September 26, 2016, students from IIT Bombay also launched a satellite, Pratham. If successful Pratham will help predict Tsunami.
Gulati explained, “IITMSAT will detect the precipitated electrons and protons at a fast frequency from Van Allen Belt to lower height. They will measure the energy of the particles present in the ionosphere. With the collected histograms, we will try to predict earthquakes from space.” With the correlation between the Van Allen Belt and particles, IIT-M hopes to predict solar flares, lighting storms as well.
The dimension of IITMSAT is 30cm x 30cm x 30cm,, and it weighs 12 kilograms. “The most challenging part was to develop the detector. This is the first time that someone has developed a satellite that will predict earthquakes from space,” mentioned Gulati. Such data is not available to scientists, and IIT-M hopes the satellite is a great success.
Gulati and his friends decided to do something innovative when their professors told them engineering is not just about reading books, but it is also about doing things. After finishing his M Tech, Gulati stayed back at IIT-M to finish the project. Currently, 40 students are working on IITMSAT, with a core team of 12 members.