The University of Leicester has played host to a delegation of space scientists
from India to discuss plans for collaboration over a future mission.

The University houses the largest academic space research centre in Europe and
has links with a dozen countries.

The four-strong delegation of space experts from Mumbai and Bangalore spent
three days at the University thrashing out plans for building a component for a
telescope on India’s Astrosat Mission, due for launch in 2007.

Guy Peters, Innovation Fellow at the University of Leicester’s Space Research
Centre, said Astrosat was the first fully-fledged astronomy satellite ever to
be built by India.

“We have members of the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research and the Indian
Space Research Organisation at the University of Leicester.

“Leicester is planning to be involved in the Soft X-Ray Telescope, and we are in
the early stages of a collaborative agreement to build the camera element of the

“In essence, we are doing a rebuild of the Swift camera- Swift, a mission to
explore Gamma Ray bursts, launched successfully last November. It is because
Leicester has such strong heritage in spacecraft design that we have been
selected for this mission.

“We will be expanding on our experience of building cameras for use in space for
missions such as Swift and XMM and combining that with experience gained from
our X-Ray Fluorescence laboratory programme, resulting in a CCD camera that is
very high resolution and sensitivity and low weight.

“Tata will build the main telescope body- Leicester will provide the camera
design and consultancy. With our help, manufacturing will take place in India
and we will be leading the integration and the calibration back in the UK.”

Explaining the purpose of the Indian space mission, Mr Peters added: “The
wonderful thing about Astrosat is that it is a multi-wavelength mission. This
means it has a wide range of telescopes that view a large area of the
electromagnetic spectrum. This means that the science you get back from the
observations of all the different telescopes has taken place in the same time

“This contrasts with other space observations from different satellites which
result in a time gap whenever you collate the different results. This makes
Astrosat a very ambitious mission and it has the potential to make a very high
impact in the worldwide astronomy community.”

This is not the University of Leicester’s first space link with India. A space
scientist from Tata, Dr Kallol Mukerjee, had worked in the Space Research Centre
on the Leicester element of the Swift mission. It was through his work at
Leicester that links with India were strengthened.

Scientists now hope this is the start of an ongoing relationship with India. The
Leicester team consists of Chief Scientist – Gordon Stewart, Project Management-
Guy Peters, camera design-Tony Abbey, mechanical engineer-Tim Stevenson. Head
of Department Professor George Fraser is in overall charge.

The Indian delegation consists of: Professor KP Singh – project manager for the
Soft X-Ray Telescope from Mumbai; Mr Koteswara Rao – project manager for
Astrosat, from Bangalore; Professor PC Agrawal, senior researcher and principal
investigator for Astrosat, from Mumbai and Atul Kothare, engineer, from Mumbai.

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information, please contact Guy Peters on 0116 223
1051 on Thursday Feb 17.

We regret that due to time constraints the Indian Space Delegation is NOT
available for media interviews.