India made its foray into space-based astrophysics with the launch of AstroSat two years ago. What are the capabilities of AstroSat? What engineering is required in building such observatories? What are the opportunities for building next generation instruments and what are the associated challenges? What will it take to make a complete research satellite at Indian Institute of Technology Bombay? In this talk, I will answer some of these questions and raise some more.
Varun Bhalerao completed his BTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Bombay in 2006, followed by a PhD in Astrophysics at Caltech in 2012. He was a Vaidya-Raychaudhuri postdoctoral fellow and INSPIRE Faculty Fellow at IUCAA, Pune from 2012-2017, after which he joined the Department of Physics at IIT Bombay as an Assistant Professor. His research interests straddle the boundary between astrophysics and engineering, where he builds satellites and telescopes. He was part of the team that built NuSTAR: an X-ray space telescope built by Caltech-NASA-JPL and launched in 2012, and later led the ground calibration team for CZTI - one of the telescopes on board AstroSat, India's first space observatory. He is a part of the LIGO scientific collaboration, and leads Indian efforts for finding and studying electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave events. For this purpose, he is working with collaborators to set up India's first fully autonomous optical telescope at Hanle, Ladakh.