Social Welfare students reach out to skies

Team sends sensors into sky on TIFR’s high-altitude experiment balloon

When the city was half-asleep and thick clouds were enveloping the city just before dawn there were loud cheers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) facility near Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL) on Friday.

History was created when a 15-member team of Telangana Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions (TSWREIS) launched the high altitude balloon ‘SWAEROSAT-1’ from the TIFR facility successfully into the stratosphere.

The balloon has been designed to study cosmic radiation and ozone layer concentration at various altitudes. But, even more importantly the students’ joy was also because the experiment is also a symbol of aspiration of millions of persons belonging to marginalized communities in the country, exulted TSWREIS secretary R.S. Praveen Kumar, who was present at the launch.

Radiation study

The balloon reached 26 km altitude and recorded the data throughout the flight which lasted for about four hours. The mission plans to compare the extent of harmful radiation in the atmosphere and ozone concentration to the global standards. The flight was tracked ‘live’ with GPS from TIFR Control Centre and the payload was recovered at Gulbarga, Karnataka.

Students involved in the exercise hail from poor families whose parents work as daily wage labourers, masons, auto drivers, vendors and likes. Yet neither poverty nor their family backgrounds prevented these children from dreaming of becoming space scientists in the future, explained Mr. Kumar.

Good opportunity

“I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would get an opportunity to design a space atmospheric probe. This is once in a lifetime opportunity. I am fortunate to be a part of the social welfare educational institutions,” said an elated team member Prasanna Lakshmi, a ninth class student from the Social Welfare Residential School, Isnapur. Another team member J Divya from Gowlidoddi College said: “I was thrilled when I saw our payload taking off majestically without technical glitches. My aim is to become a space scientist and make the nation proud.”

The secretary said the society is grateful to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for his support and encouragement while Minister for Welfare Koppula Eshwar congratulated the students for their scientific endeavour and making Telangana proud. TIFR chairperson D.K. Ojha, scientist-in-charge of balloon facility B. Susheel Kumar, Anil Kumar and Sujay Sreedhar of Swaero-Sapiens Automation Solutions, Hyderabad, were among those who had helped the students in the experiment.

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