This 17-Year-Old Tamil Nadu Innovator Built a Satellite to Measure Air Pollution

A 17-year-old Trichy student built a light-weight satellite that will study the effects of air pollution and global warming in various regions of Tamil Nadu, including major cities.

K A Villet Oviya, the young innovator who built this 500g satellite under the guidance of industry experts has dubbed it ‘Anitha-SAT’ in memory of an aspiring medical student Anitha, who committed suicide in 2017 after she failed to clear the NEET exams.

satellite Tamil Nadu air pollution

Representational Image only. Source: Flickr

The 500g Anita-SAT packed in a conical capsule will take off in a helium balloon from Mexico City on May 6, reported The Times of India.


Oviya, a medical aspirant, is now preparing for her NEET exam. Contesting on the reality TV show E7ham Arivu for budding scientists three years ago, the 17-year-old was then motivated to build a satellite.

Oviya drew limelight as a budding innovator when she presented her smart irrigation system to late President A P J Abdul Kalam. “I wanted to do something to create awareness about air pollution. My love for electrical engineering and electronics drove me further to conceptualise Anitha-SAT,” the class 12 student told TOI.

The project reached its culmination after three years and was sponsored by Agnishwar Jayaprakash, the founder of Ignite-India and Agni Foundation, who also happens to be the man behind the E7ham Arivu show.

She worked hard under the guidance of the Garuda Aerospace in Chennai, to design, procure components, fabricate and feed in the algorithms for the satellite.


Working of the satellite

  • Anita-SAT in its three-hour lifespan will reach an altitude of 15 km.
  • It will carry sensors to measure various parameters like temperature, pressure, air quality and concentration of gases including carbon monoxide.
  • GPS for positioning, gyrometer and accelerometer to measure orientation and angular speed.
  • Barometer to measure the height.
  • A camera to telecast the mission live.

How will this data reach the ground?

The captured data will be transmitted via satellite to the ground station at Aztra Labs in Mexico City.

When the helium balloon nears the uppermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere, it will explode, and the capsule will descend.

The capsule will also be equipped with a parachute when it reaches around 8,000m from sea level, and once it falls into the sea, the satellite would be recovered.

Speaking to TOI, Oviya said, “The gas sensor fitted in the satellite, will measure the concentration of various gases like oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide layer-wise in the atmosphere, the data of which can be used by the government to come up with measures to tackle air pollution.”

Her project was also lauded by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and Education Minister K A Sengottaiyan.

While Oviya is looking forward to the launch of the satellite, May 6 also happens to be the day she will be appearing for her NEET exam. “I won’t be able to watch the launch,” she told TOI.

READ MORE: Udupi Ramachandra Rao, The ISRO Legend Behind India’s First Satellite ‘Aryabhata’

Oviya’s innovations at a tender age span across sectors. She has also undertaken some interesting projects including an automatic irrigation system based on soil moisture content, a bio-fertiliser and pesticide, and a hand-gesture vocaliser for people with speech and hearing impairment.

We wish Oviya all the best as she prepares to take the first step towards both her dreams, of launching the satellite and appearing for her NEET exam. May she succeed with flying colours.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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