Career in Space Science & Astrophysics - Brainchecker

Career in Space Science & Astrophysics

Welcome To Brainchecker,

The recent success of Mangalyaan mission has left a huge impact on the youth of the country.

While the social media websites are abuzz with congratulatory messages from all over India, a new career option seems to be inspiring the young generation of the country.

Gone are the days when students were highly influenced by the creamy layer of career options, like doctors, engineers and accountants.

The modern lifestyle and advanced technologies have given way for myriad alternatives to pursue a career in space technology.

If the new discovery about Mars and building of a satellite amused you like nothing else till date, then space science is probably the thing for you. We tell you all you need to know to build a career in space science.

Why get into astrophysics & space technology?

Astrophysics and the space technology industry offer some of the best career paths for physics, mathematics, engineering and computer science graduates who are seeking a professional career, whilst still maintaining contact with advanced scientific concepts. This industry also gives its employees the opportunity to become intrinsically involved in some of the most exciting and ambitious projects ever conceived by mankind.

What options exist within astrophysics & space technology?

The career paths in astrophysics and space technology can roughly be split into three areas:

  • Scientific
  • Technological

Scientific positions will often be available in governmental or transnational space agencies. These opportunities are available in various specialist areas, including astrophysical and cosmological data analysis, mission conception, mission control, astronautically programmes and advanced concept development.

These institutions will also have close links to universities that will often conduct complimentary research and design instrumentation for scientific missions. On the technology side of things, both small innovative companies and transnational industrial giants will design and construct all manner of spacecraft and associated ground systems. The people who work in these departments get involved throughout the complete lifecycle of a mission, from initial feasibility studies, through design, manufacture and launch and finally to eventual decommissioning and disposal.

The variety of spacecraft that these guys might be working on can be incredibly broad and may include: telecommunication satellites, Earth observation systems for disaster response and climate change monitoring, and bespoke extra-terrestrial probes and rover vehicles.

Professional space careers on the operations side of things are also incredibly important. A number of companies exist purely to operate satellites, lease bandwidth and sell data to other companies. These companies will also handle the day-to-day attitude and orbit control of the spacecraft, as well as more unconventional instances such as collision avoidance.

What jobs can I do in the astrophysics & space science sector?

The roles within the space industry are as varied as the missions themselves. Positions for governmental space agencies typically involve identification of key scientific objectives, and mission planning and management. Positions may also include less scientific elements, such as managing the transnational distribution of research grants and space policy and law.

In space technology institutions, the focus is really on the detailed design and execution of mission concepts. Research and development roles are often split into architect and analyst positions, with architects defining the complex infrastructure of a system and analysts undertaking the in-depth analysis and development of individual areas, including:

  • Structural and stress engineering
  • Guidance and navigation control systems
  • Thermal engineering
  • Mechanisms
  • Antennae and telecoms
  • Power system
  • Full system-level simulators.

At the manufacturing level, the focus is on spacecraft assembly and testing.

The space industry is truly a world leader in transnational cooperation, as only the smallest companies in this industry will operate solely out of one country. The workforce in any relevant organization tends to be exceptionally diverse, as companies tend to recruit the top graduates from academic institutions all over the world.

Large and complex missions regularly require many disparate companies from across the globe to work together. This collaborative work is then overseen by governmental agencies. Careers in the space industry therefore provide excellent opportunities for travel and give you the chance to experience new cultures, both professionally and socially.

Nature of Work

Space scientists work in a multidisciplinary field which includes people from various streams. Most of the space scientists are from core engineering branches such as mechanical, electrical, etc. Engineers from mechanical and materials stream develop the hardware and devices required for space science and exploration. Similarly, Electronic or systems engineers get involved in developing the ‘software’ needed to run this equipment and ensure that it is functioning properly. Space Scientists with mathematics background can also play a vital role as they are involved in the analysis of the large amounts of data produced by space instruments and in calculating the orbits of space vehicles.

Astronomers help in building or using telescopes that are launched into space to study the universe by measuring the infrared, X-ray, and gamma-ray light. Among the few of the researchers like climatologists, atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, geology and geophysics, ecologists, etc. also contribute significantly in space technology and science. In brief, a career in space science or technology mostly take place on the ground; only a relatively small number of people actually get the opportunity to leave the planet for the limitless boundaries of space for exploration. The mission would not have been possible for each astronaut who makes it to space; there are thousands of support people in the earth without whose skills, knowledge and efforts.

How to get into career in space science and technology?

If you desire to make your career in space science and technology, passing +2 or equivalent exam from any state board or CBSE with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics is a minimum requirement. You can pursue your Bachelors degree in these subjects or space technology / space science offered by Indian Institute of Space Technology, under Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

Career in Space Science and Technology – Job profile of Space scientists:

In a career in space science and technology, after the post graduation, they can work as faculty at universities, pursue independent research, publish papers, guide research students, teach classes, sit on academic committees, referee papers for publication, and write proposals to fund their research.

Astronomers/astrophysicists

They work in government/national observatories, space research agencies, planetariums, science museums, and may also work in mass media and science communication.

In government and institutions such as Indian Space Research Organization and DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organization).

Astronomers

They may be employed by organizations and companies to design and manufacture telescopes, write software, and do many other tasks in support of space laboratories/ missions, ground-based observatories and data processing and analysis.

All the jobs sometimes are for positions working directly in space science, or performing services for companies that specialize in providing goods and services for the aerospace industry. The postings are available for job opportunities in the space, aerospace, and defense industries.

Here are some programmes offered by Indian Institute of Space Technology

An education in space and astronomy is not the most professional degree that one can acquire. Most of it can be attributed to an individual’s own desire to learn about this field.

GoI mainly supports the education sector around astronomy in India and there is rarely any private endeavor in this space. Yet these institutes in India have greatly contributed to space education on the formal level.

  • Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, Nainital
  • Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, (Pune)
  • National Centre for Radio Astronomy, Pune
  • Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
  • Radio Astronomy Center, Ooty
  • Raman Research Institute, (Bangalore)

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