Nasa gadget for closer look at sun

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By JHINUK MAZUMDAR
  • Published 28.12.09
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City students would get to know the sun and Jupiter better from mid-2010, thanks to a radio receiver to be installed at MP Birla Planetarium as part of a joint project with Nasa.

The Florida Space Grant Consortium of the US space research agency will provide the receiver, which can pick up radio emissions by celestial bodies, to promote astronomy in Calcutta. Birla Planetarium is required to develop infrastructure to install the machine under the Radio Jove project.

“Using the device, those in Class VIII and above can study radiowaves emitted by the sun and Jupiter. The signals received by the machine can be converted to sound,” said Jaydeep Mukherjee, the interim director of the Florida Space Institute and the director of the Nasa Florida Space Grant Consortium, on the sidelines of a lecture on missions to the moon at the planetarium on Saturday evening.

The emissions provide data about both the surface and the interior of the sun and the atmosphere of Jupiter. The information can be used by students of astronomy, physics and computer science for further research and software development.

“Birla Planetarium will become one of the observatories in the Radio Jove network, spread over 15 countries. We decided to set up the receiver following requests by city students through email,” added Mukherjee, on his annual weekly visit to the city.

The device, though not expensive, is not readily available in India. There are also several advantages of being a part of a global network. “We would be able to share our findings with other countries and get a feedback on the results,” said Debiprosad Duari, the director (research and academics) of MP Birla Institute of Fundamental Research.

The institute will measure the radio interference around the planetarium before the instrument is installed. If there is too much interference, the receiver might have to be installed outside the city limits.

“The set-up might be meant for amateurs but it can produce valuable data if used seriously,” added Duari.