The Big Picture
Nalin worked at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), where they are planning a mission in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to send a rover to the South Pole of the Moon with the aim of launching around 2024.
Nalin had to stay in India during the last 2 years of university due to COVID restrictions and after his second year he was eager to do a Year in Industry. He started contacting research companies in India and fortunately ISRO found his CV appealing. He had a phone interview where he talked amongst other things about his contributions in the York Aerospace and Rocketry Society and later was given a role to carry out research under Dr Shyama Narendranath, who is part of the Space Science Division at the ISRO.
The Learning Curve
Nalin’s job was to progress Dr Shyama’s research, some of this research involved studying the effects of grain size and amorphous substances on X-ray diffraction systems. The main objective of the research was to find out whether it was practical to use an X-ray diffractometer for planetary in-situ mineralogical analysis as part of the Lunar Rover. Ultimately, whether such technology can be used to detect planetary water in real time.. His research was also to study considerations involved in making CheMin and seeing how the data was analysed when he converted 2D images into usable graphs. He had to find out how to analyse the data in those graphs using a method called Rietveld refinement. In the graphs there were different spikes which had different kinds of minerals that he had to identify.
“I would say one skill I’ve gained is interpreting complex research papers, because before I wouldn’t have even understod what was going on“
In January 2022 Nalin created a poster of his work, which was exhibited at the National Space Science Symposium (NSSS) in India. The NSSS is a conference where people from universities and industries come together to present their research. Nalin highlighted his research, which investigated the effects of a grain size sample on X-Ray diffraction data.
Later in his placement Nalin took part in the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference where, along with his research team they presented work on the comparison of the Sittampundi Anorthosite Complex (SAC) with lunar soil samples collected from the Apollo missions. The work focused on the chemical similarities between SAC and lunar soil samples.
Due to covid, Nalin learnt to work independently, as most of his time he collected research data on his own and he also prepared scientific reports by himself.
“I learned a lot; I couldn’t have managed to learn nearly as much as this if I had just studied the university modules“
He considers himself lucky, because the research he carried out was at a PhD level (e.g. he researched the Rietveld refinement). He highly recommends a Year in Industry at a national research institute, as he states the skills you learn are more advanced than what you learn during your time at university.
The Next Step
Working remotely, Nalin’s Year in Industry at ISRO increased his interest in space science and he’s passionate about researching or working in the space industry, as a future career. Nalin recommends to everyone that is applying for a placement year to
“Mention every skill you have on your CV; talk about the clubs you’ve joined and the volunteering you’ve done even if its not directly related to the job role you’ve applied for“