The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), valid for a period of five years, with the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) on August 30, 2021, for extending the ongoing collaboration for operations and scientific utilisation of the GROWTH - India Telescope.
The GROWTH - India telescope was set up jointly by IIA and IIT Bombay under a project supported by DST-SERB and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, and became operational in 2018. Under this partnership, the organizations agreed to jointly continue the operations of the project. IIT Bombay students will continue to remotely use this robotic telescope, and will use and develop tools for observations and data processing. The operations of the GROWTH - India telescope are supported by generous contribution from IIT Bombay Alumni Class of 1994.
The GROWTH - India Telescope is a 0.7m wide-field telescope set up in Ladakh as a joint partnership between IIA and IIT Bombay. The main focus of the interdisciplinary project is to undertake continuous studies of cosmic sources that have rapidly-varying properties like emission from gravitational wave events, young supernovae and near-earth asteroids. It is the country's first fully-robotic optical telescope and one of the few such facilities present outside of Europe and the USA. It has been instrumental in the research work carried on by IIT Bombay. IIT Bombay students trained with this telescope collaborate with astronomers around the world. Two such students recently discovered 2020 QG, which was the closest known asteroid that flew past Earth without impacting it.
Speaking about the partnership, Prof. Subhasis Chaudhuri, Director, IIT Bombay said, "IIT Bombay aims to be a leader in astronomical research and this prestigious partnership with IIA brings us one step closer to our mission. We would like to thank the alumni from IIT Bombay's batch of 1994 for their generous contribution, which has made it possible for us to get access to the GROWTH - India Telescope, that would further our research".
Prof. Annapurni Subramaniam, Director, IIA, said, "The GIT, located in the Indian Astronomical Observatory, Hanle, of the IIA, is a facility dedicated to the study of transients. The wealth of expertise and experience of the IIA team in running telescope facilities in one of the best sites in the world combined with the young and enthusiastic team of IIT Bombay is a great collaboration that has already produced fascinating results in the last three years". The IIA is the nodal center for the Indian participation in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project, and hosts India-TMT coordination center. The Institute is currently developing the Visible Emission Line Coronagraph to be flown in the upcoming Aditya-L1 mission.
The virtual event was attended by senior dignitaries from both the organisations, including Prof. Suhas Joshi, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Bombay, Prof. Varun Bhalerao, Department of Physics and co-ordinator of the project (GROWTH Co-PI), IIT Bombay, Prof. Eswar Reddy, Dean, IIA, Prof. Anupama G.C. (GROWTH Co-PI), Prof. Sudhanshu Barway (GROWTH co-ordinator, IIA) and Prof. Devendra Sahu, members of the GROWTH team.
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