Kaam Ki BaatTechnology

Astronomers Develop a Low-Cost Star Sensor 

Low-Cost Star Sensor will help satellites orient themselves in space.

In recent years, India has developed its space technology to a large extent. The latest development by astronomers called ‘Starberry-Sense,’ a low-cost star sensor, will help satellites orient themselves in space. It has been developed by astronomers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru. 

What is a star sensor?

Star sensors are instruments utilized in spacecraft navigation and guidance systems to establish the spacecraft’s position and direction in space. The sensors function by detecting the movements and positions of stars in relation to the spacecraft’s location. Star sensors can precisely establish the spacecraft’s orientation in three-dimensional space by analyzing the positions of stars captured by the sensor’s telescope and comparing them to a database of known star positions. 

Why is ‘Starberry-Sense’ important?

It is a low-cost star sensor developed “from off-the-shelf components.” It can help small CubeSat class satellites orient themselves in space. ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) will launch it on the PS4-Orbital Platform. 

CubeSat or nanosatellite is a type of miniaturized satellite used for space research and exploration. India has also developed and launched CubeSat satellites for various purposes, such as remote sensing, atmospheric and oceanographic studies, and technology demonstrations. While CubeSat satellites are cheaper, the cost of a star sensor to orient the satellite increases the overall cost. Hence, a cheap star sensor will ensure that the overall costs remain low, and we can launch more CubeSat satellites for various purposes. 

This star sensor costs less than 10% of those available in the market. The brain of the instrument is a single-board Linux computer called Raspberry Pi, which is widely used among electronics hobby enthusiasts,” reads the official update from the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

Binukumar Nair, a co-author of the study, also said “Our modular design allows for quick and easy customization for various requirements. For e.g., even though StarBerry-Sense is meant for space-based applications, a modified version will be interfaced with the Major Atmospheric Cherenkov Experiment (MACE), located at the Indian Astronomical Observatory (IAO), Hanle, Ladakh.”

This small device is a huge success for India and its increasing space abilities. 

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Harshita Bajaj

Harshita has a background in Psychology and Criminology and is currently pursuing her PhD in Criminology. She can be found reading crime thrillers (or any other book for that matter) or binge-watching shows on Netflix when she is not in hibernation.
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