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Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT): India’s 3rd facility to bag IEEE Milestone status

Tulika Tandon

Listed below are the details on GMRT- India’s third facility to bag IEEE Milestone status. Check out its significance, what is GMRT, why is it in news, what is IEEE and other details.

Why in News

Pune's Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) has become the third scientific facility from India to receive the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) milestone for its novel, innovative engineering, advanced technology and scientific contributions made in the field of radio astronomy.

What is GMRT

GMRT is an array of 30 antennas that are positioned in a ‘Y’ shape, at Khodad village in Junnar taluka of Pune district. It is operated by the TIFR – National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, NCRA. Late Govind Swarup came up with the idea of GMRT.

It is extensively used for studying the universe in low frequency since 2000. The telescope has been useful in various path-breaking discoveries. Scientists from almost 40 countries use the data generated from this telescope. Recently, the facility underwent its first upgrade, thereby allowing researchers to dig deeper into the universe. 

About IEEE 

The IEEE is the world’s largest technical body that publishes research from the fields of engineering and computing. It also awards standards to institutions and organisations involved in these fields. IEEE considers any institution for the milestone on the basis of engineering, science and computational facilities it offers for at least 25 years. It needs a very well documented history and contributions listed by the institute. 

Earlier achievements of India

  1. J C Bose’s demonstration of generation and reception of radio waves in 1895
  2. Demonstration of the Raman Effect by C V Raman in 1928

These have been the only IEEE milestone winners from India, till date. However, these discoveries were recognised as late as 2012.

GMRT- Specifications

  1. GMRT is an indigenous project. 
  2. The construction of 30 large dishes at a relatively small cost has been possible due to an important technological breakthrough achieved by Indian Scientists and Engineers in the design of light-weight, low-cost dishes. The design is based on the `SMART' concept which means Stretch Mesh Attached to Rope Trusses.
  3. The dish is made light-weight and has low solidity as it was made by replacing the conventional back-up structure by stainless steel rope trusses stretched between 16 parabolic frames made of tubular steel.
  4. The wire ropes are tensioned suitably to make a mosaic of plane facets approximating a parabolic surface. 
  5. A light-weight thin wire mesh (made of 0.55 mm diameter stainless steel wire) with a grid size varying from 10 by 10 mm in the central part of the dish to 20 by 20 mm in the outer parts, stretched over the rope truss facets forms the reflecting surface of the dish. 
  6. The low-solidity design cuts down the wind forces by a large factor and is particularly suited to Indian conditions where there is no snowfall in the plains. 
  7. The overall wind forces and the resulting torques for a 45m GMRT dish are similar to a 22m dish of conventional design, thus resulting in substantial savings in cost.

Way Forward

While as many as 15 contender institutions from India are currently undergoing the review process for the IEEE milestone, a major challenge for India is poor documentation. Now it is time for Chaturbhuj temple in Gwalior where the inscriptions of zero were traced and the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur which is the innovation of trigonometry to achieve the IEEE milestone status. 

Take this GK Quiz on CV Raman to test your knowledge

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