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Indian firm bags Russian order for scientific equipment

Posted on Dec 19, 12:54PM | IANS

Multi-technology group firm Hind High Vacuum Ltd (HHV) has bagged an order from Moscow State University to supply a machine for re-coating giant mirror of a telescope in the Caucasus mountain observatory of the Sternberg Astronomical Institute.

"The coating is done under high vacuum and controlled conditions so that the deposition is spotlessly clean, accurate and uniform," HHV managing director Nagarjun Sakhamuri said in a statement here Tuesday.

The city-based, over four-decade old firm specialises in the design, development and manufacture of customised equipment and products in vacuum technology, solar photovoltaic energy and thin films.

Leveraging its expertise in vacuum-based technology for depositing thin film coatings, the company has joined the select club of a few specialised firms in advanced countries having the ability to design and develop complex coating equipment for large mirrors.

"We supplied our first machine for coating telescope mirrors in 2004 to the Indian Institute of Astrophysics' observatory at Hanle (at 4,570 m) in the Ladakh region of the Himalayas," Sakhamuri said.

The company also supplied coating equipment and products to state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Tarapur in Mumbai.

Modern astronomical observatories peering into deep space use advanced optical telescopes with large size mirrors of over two metre diameters. The mirrors are coated with a reflective thin film of aluminum or silver or an alloy of both. Over time, their film gets damaged and tarnished due to oxidation, dust, impact of charged particles from space.

"To make them function efficiently, the mirrors are given a fresh coating with a new layer of reflective film. As the observatories are located in remote areas and high altitudes, the coating has to be done on the spot, using special machines," Sakhamuri noted.

In 2006, the company supplied a coater to the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) for its telescopic mirror at Girawali near Ghodegaon on the Pune-Mumbai highway at an altitude of 1,000 metres above sea level.

Early this year, the company supplied a coating machine to the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences for its two optical telescopes at Devasthal, situated at an altitude of 2500 meters, about 60km from Nainital in the lower Himalayas.

"Successful execution of projects in the country enabled us to win the Russian order despite stiff competition from established players in Europe. The machine will be dispatched to the Sternberg Institute by this month-end," Sakhamuri added.