ISRO and beyond: Select a Career In Space Technology

September 19, 2019
Miscellaneous

With the recent news about the Chandrayaan-2 mission spreading like wildfire, it would not be wrong to say that a lot of young minds have been influenced in a good way. For those who are clueless, to shed some light on the same, Chandrayaan-2 is the lunar exploration mission, specifically, the unexplored southern part of the moon, developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation. While things did not go as smoothly as expected with reports stating that the communication with Vikram lander, the lunar orbiter, was lost at 2.1 km, almost the entire country has been commending the spectacular efforts and deeds carried out by the team at ISRO. Although the lander has been found, connection has not been restored as of yet but continuous efforts are being made right now to establish the connection again.

For an Indian student trying to get into space technology, he has quite a few colleges at hand. Some of the colleges which foster space education are as follows:

  • Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
  • Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, Nainital
  • Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research
  • Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  • National Centre for Radio Astronomy, Pune
  • Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune
  • Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
  • Radio Astronomy Centre, Ooty
  • Raman Research Institute, Bangalore

One of the most reputed out of these is IIST. As stated on the ISRO website, he Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) is an autonomous body under DOS formed with the primary objective of creating world class academic Institution in the area of advanced Space Science and Technology education by seamlessly integrating education with research and generating high quality human resources to meet the quality human resource requirements of DOS/ISRO. IIST offers high quality and specialised space academic programmes for students wanting to pursue the same. IIST offers the following undergraduate courses:

  • 4-Year B.Tech. ( Aerospace Engineering )
  • 4-Year B.Tech. (Electronics and Communication Engineering (Avionics))
  • 5-Year Dual Degree (B.Tech. + Master of Science/Master of Technology)

Only Indian citizens are eligible to take admission in UG courses offered at IIST. Candidates meet IIST admission eligibility criteria if they have secured minimum 75% aggregate marks in their Class 12 Board exams or equivalent examination. SC/ST/PwD category students can apply if they have secured at least 65% aggregate marks in the qualifying exam. Admissions to the courses are provided on the basis of a student’s performance in the JEE Main and JEE Advanced examinations.

All the know-how about the laws of the universe, the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ are yet to be discovered. Space is mysterious and we do not know a lot about it. It is, therefore, natural to be curious about what lies beyond human knowledge. Space science is not the easiest thing on the planet but it is indeed, very fascinating. It requires aptitude in physics and math and science, in general. There are a number of career options to choose from in the field of space technology. So, a student who is fascinated by space has a variety of options on his plate and he can pursue the one which he feels, is his true calling. Below is a list of careers in space science along with job descriptions.

Astronaut

For most of us, when we think about space and technology, the first thing that comes to our mind is, most likely, astronaut. While it is really easy to claim that becoming an astronaut is what you really want to do, remember that the road becoming one is not easy. Most countries with a space exploration programme have astronaut training programmes as well. Now there are limited positions in these programmes which makes them highly competitive and only the highest skilled individuals are accepted. Astronauts in training have to undergo extreme exercise, meet stringent physical fitness criteria including height and weight. Graduate and doctoral degrees in math and science are preferred for these programmes.

Aerospace Engineer

For the others who do not really want to go to outer space but are more interested in the design and building of the vehicles that make space exploration possible, aerospace engineering is something you can look into. Aerospace engineers primarily design aircraft, spacecraft, space shuttles, missiles, satellites etc. almost all of which operate beyond the atmosphere of the earth. They are responsible for designing and developing the satellites which have an impact on our daily lives such as forecasting weather and climate conditions.

Avionics Engineer

While the astronautical or aerospace engineers are responsible for the development of the actual vehicle, avionics engineers are concerned with what’s happening within these vehicles. When it comes to avionics, the focus is on the electronic system, computers, remote communication, reports of altitude, temperature and pressure, infrastructure and lots and lots of coding. A single error could raise a hundred other issues. So, this is an extremely important field in space research and development centres.

Robotics Engineer

The outer space is as unpredictable as it can get. One moment, you are out there, floating in space trying to get something done and the next moment, boom, an asteroid just hit your hometown on Earth. I’m just kidding. However, in all seriousness, robotics engineers work and develop robotic components and arms that would help in accomplishing several tasks outside the spacecraft that would otherwise, require a human to complete it. Spacewalks involve a lot of risks for the astronauts which is why it is necessary to build equipment that would lessen the need for an astronaut to be outside the spacecraft. They also work on the mechanism of space rovers and orbiters. 

Space Scientist

Space science is a vast field with numerous branches. Space scientists are the ones who study and conduct research at large about the universe. Space scientists can be purely into the research and development sector, can be professors in a university or even divulge into technical writing and publish papers. These scientists collect the data and evidence collected by the rovers, satellites and orbiters. Analysing this data helps them to learn new stuff and come up with theories and be able to prove or disprove them.

Astrophysicist

Astrophysics is the amalgamation of astronomy and physics. It is the study of celestial objects and the interaction between various objects in space. The primary focus of astrophysicists is research and development. They can study the theoretical aspects or apply fundamental laws of physics to understand the formation of galaxies, stars, planets, black holes better.

Meteorologist

Meteorologists or space atmospheric scientists study about the space weather. Space weather is the field concerned with the time-varying conditions in the solar system such as the solar wind and other conditions existing in the ionosphere, thermosphere, magnetosphere and exosphere. Space weather, although distinct from the earth weather, both are conceptually related. There are multiple cosmic forces surrounding the earth, including electromagnetic forces in outer space. For example, magnetospheric storms can cause a lot of damage and disrupt large-scale activities. Hence, it is important that meteorologists study space weather conditions regularly for the safe deployment of shuttles and onset of other heavy power-demanding activities.

Telecommunication Engineer

The term "telecommunications industry" refers to manufacturers and distributors of cell phones, televisions, radios, Internet programs and other electronic devices. In space technology, as a telecommunication engineer, you would be working with the development and improvement of satellites, assessing and analysing the communications system, improving and refining it iteratively. The assessment and deployment of new technologies that can be used to improve satellite efficiency or technology to improve the communication system domain with any spacecraft or rovers is the responsibility of a telecom engineer.

This is not the only career options available in space tech. Space science is a vast field and you can go on the internet and try to find out more information about career opportunities. While you are at it, make sure to reach for the sky!

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