Press Release

ISRO: Conference on EDUSAT

By SpaceRef Editor
July 26, 2004
Filed under , , ,
ISRO: Conference on EDUSAT

The Conference on EDUSAT, organised by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) jointly with the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), is being inaugurated by His Excellency Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, President of India at 12:15 pm on Friday, July 23, 2004 at St. John’s Auditorium, Koramangala, Bangalore. Shri N Dharam Singh, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka and His Excellency Shri T N Chaturvedi, Governor of Karnataka are the Guests of Honour. During the inaugural function, Dr Abdul Kalam interacts, via INSAT, with students at Nasik, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Belgaum and Mangalore and also releases a compendium “EDUSAT – Indian Satellite in Education”.

The invitation for the conference has been extended to the Vice Chancellors in the country (about 250), Chairman of University Grants Commission, Education Secretary, Directors of Indian Institutes of Technology, Agricultural Universities, Medical Universities and other important educationists and administrators. The main objective of the conference is to appraise the educationists on the capabilities of EDUSAT, to be launched by ISRO in September 2004 and how the various educational agencies could utilise it.

The pivotal role of education as an instrument of social change by altering the human perspective and transforming the traditional mindset of society is well recognised. The universalisation of education has become the top priority, especially for the developing countries. But the extension of quality education to remote and rural regions becomes a Herculean task for a large country like India with multi-lingual and multi-cultural population separated by vast geographical distances and in many instances, inaccessible terrain. Since independence, India has seen substantial increase in the number of educational institutions at primary, secondary and higher levels as well as the student enrolment. But the lack of adequate rural educational infrastructure and non-availability of good teachers in sufficient numbers adversely affect the efforts made in education.

Satellites can establish the connectivity between urban educational institutions with adequate infrastructure imparting quality education and the large number of rural and semi-urban educational institutions that lack the necessary infrastructure. Besides supporting formal education, a satellite system can facilitate the dissemination of knowledge to the rural and remote population about important aspects like health, hygiene and personality development and allow professionals to update their knowledge base as well. Thus, in spite of limited trained and skilled teachers, the aspirations of the growing student population at all levels can be met through the concept of tele-education.

The concept of beaming educational programmes through satellites was effectively demonstrated for the first time in India in 1975-76 through the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted using the American Application Technology Satellite (ATS-6). During this unique experiment, which is hailed as the largest sociological experiment conducted anywhere in the world, programmes pertaining to health, hygiene and family planning were telecast directly to about 2400 Indian villages spread over six states. Later, with the commissioning of INSAT system in 1983, a variety of educational programmes are being telecast. In the 90s, Jhabua Developmental Communications Project (JDCP) and Training and Developmental Communication Channel (TDCC) further demonstrated the efficacy of tele-education.

With the success of the INSAT based educational services, a need was felt to launch a satellite dedicated for educational service and ISRO conceived the EDUSAT Project in October 2002. EDUSAT is to be launched on board ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV, in September 2004.

EDUSAT is the first exclusive satellite for serving the educational sector. It is specially configured to meet the growing demand for an interactive satellite based distance education system for the country through audio-visual medium, employing Direct To Home (DTH) quality broadcast. The satellite will have multiple regional beams covering different parts of India — five Ku-band transponders with spot beams covering northern, north-eastern, eastern, southern and western regions of the country, a Ku-band transponder with its footprint covering the Indian mainland region and six C-band transponders with their footprints covering the entire country.

EDUSAT will be placed in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit and co-located with INSAT-3C and KALPANA-1 at 74 deg East longitude. The satellite, weighing 1,950 kg at lift-off including 1,110 kg of propellants for orbit raising and maintenance, is designed to provide service for seven years.

EDUSAT is built using a standardised spacecraft structure called I-2K bus. It has certain new technological elements — multiple spot beam antenna with 1.2 m reflector to direct precisely the Ku-band spot beams towards their intended region of India, a dual core bent heat pipe for thermal control, high efficiency multi-junction Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar cells and an improved thruster configuration to optimise propellant use for orbit and orientation maintenance. The satellite uses radiatively cooled Ku-band Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTAs) and dielectrically loaded C-band DEMULTIPLEXER for its communication payloads. The solar arrays of EDUSAT generate about 2,000 Watt of electrical power.

EDUSAT is primarily meant for providing connectivity to school, college and higher levels of education and also to support non-formal education including developmental communication. The scope of the EDUSAT programme is planned to be realised in three phases. In the first phase of pilot projects, a Ku-band transponder on board INSAT-3B, which is already in orbit, is being used. In Karnataka, Visveswaraiah Technological University (VTU) is the main beneficiary of this pilot project. Under this pilot project, all engineering colleges of VTU are being networked with one hundred nodes. Besides Karnataka, the Y B Chavan State Open University, Nasik in Maharashtra and the Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in Madhya Pradesh are covered under the pilot project.

In the second phase, EDUSAT spacecraft once commissioned in orbit, will be used in a semi-operational mode with at least one uplink in each of the five spot beams. About 100-200 classrooms will be connected in each beam. In addition to Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh included under the first phase, coverage will be extended to two more states and one national institution. In the third phase, EDUSAT network is expected to become fully operational. ISRO will provide technical and managerial support in the replication of EDUSAT ground systems to manufacturers and service providers. End users are expected to provide funds for this. In this phase, ground infrastructure to meet the country’s educational needs will be built and during this period, EDUSAT will be able to support about 25 to 30 uplinks and about 5000 remote terminals per uplink.

While ISRO will provide the space segment for EDUSAT System and demonstrate the efficacy of the satellite system for interactive distance education, content generation is the responsibility of the user agencies. The quantity and quality of the content would ultimately decide the success of EDUSAT System. This involves an enormous effort by the user agencies. To help in this, ISRO, in cooperation with the user agencies, has already organised five conferences at regional level and one at the national level to create awareness about the EDUSAT and its capabilities.

The Conference on EDUSAT at Bangalore is yet another effort by ISRO to increase the awareness on EDUSAT capabilities among the institutions of learning and elicit the views of experts in implementing the EDUSAT system. The Bangalore conference will have nine parallel sessions to discuss topics on Distance Education, Medical Education, Technical Education, Agricultural Education, Higher Education, Teachers’ Training, Industry-Academia Interaction, Education Administration and EDUSAT Management. Recommendations arising from these parallel sessions will be discussed in the valedictory session. The Conference is expected to result in drawing a road map for the effective utilisation of EDUSAT system.

SpaceRef staff editor.