BITS Pilani Dubai Campus launches ground station for space research

Briefing on the first batch of data received by the new ground station at BPDC
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: In a move towards advancing satellite communication and space research, BITS Pilani Dubai Campus (BPDC) has announced the successful installation and launch of its ground station.

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Tailored to track amateur and educational satellites, the ground station received its inaugural image from the NOAA 19 satellite, capturing weather data. Fitted with two high-gain cross-polarised yagi antennas operating in VHF and UHF bands, the station facilitates real-time communication with satellites traversing the BPDC campus horizon.

BPDC Director Dr Srinivasan Madapusi said: “The launch and operational readiness of our ground station represent a significant leap forward in our pursuit of excellence in space technology. This milestone underscores our dedication to providing students with cutting-edge resources and practical experience in satellite communication.”

Among its features is the ground station’s ability to autonomously track satellite passes using digitally controlled rotors, enabling precise monitoring and data collection crucial for educational and research endeavours. Furthermore, an omnidirectional antenna enhances the station’s utility in meteorological research by facilitating the reception of weather data from satellites like NOAA.

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The ground station at BPDC plays a pivotal role in the ambitious MAHASAT project, mentored by Padma Shri-awardee Mylswamy Annadurai, the visionary behind India’s successful Moon and Mars Missions. Collaborating with UAE’s leading online space education hub, Edutech4Space, this project aims to “propel BPDC to the forefront of space exploration and education”.

MAHASAT, envisioned as a multi-phase endeavour, seeks to “revolutionise” space technology through incremental advancements. Beginning with the development and testing of a picosatellite using drones, the project has progressed to the establishment a ground station at the BPDC campus. This strategic trajectory will culminate in the construction and launch of an engineering model of the CubeSat, leveraging data collected and analysed in the field.

Shrisudha Viswanathan, Founder and CEO of EduTech4Space, said: “The establishment of this ground station marks a pivotal moment for our organisation and the student community of UAE. It not only provides practical training in satellite communication but also opens doors to a multitude of research opportunities in space technology.”

Annadurai said: “The ground station facility at BPDC not only facilitates practical research projects but also offers interdisciplinary learning opportunities in areas such as meteorology and satellite communication. It underscores BPDC’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of space scientists and engineers.”