Supriya Chakrabarti

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Supriya Chakrabarti
BornHowrah, India
🏳️ NationalityIndian
🎓 Alma materUniversity of Calcutta, University of California, Berkeley
💼 Occupation
🏡 Home townHowrah
🏅 AwardsSPIE George W. Goddard Award 2016 [1]

Supriya Chakravarti is a researcher and is the director of the university's Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology (LoCSST), University of Massachusetts. He is a former director of Center for Space Physics, Boston University. His mainly research interests contains in Astrophysics.

Early life and education[edit]

Chakrabarti was born at Ramrajatala, Howrah. He completed his High Secondary studies in Science stream from Santragachi Kedarnath Institution, Howrah in 1969. He earned B.E from the Bengal Engineering College under University of Calcutta in 1975 and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1982.[2] He said he was probably inspired by the small spot of light moving in the sky of Sputnik 1 in 1957. He also said that he also watched the first moon landing in 1969 on a TV through a large office window in the U.S. Information Service in Kolkata, India, and that could leave an inspiring impression on him.[3]

Professional career[edit]

After Ph.D, Chakrabarti joined the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley as a Senior Fellow and initiated a research program in terrestrial and planetary atmospheric studies. He also participated in the space shuttle and satellite mission programs. He afterward started a sounding rocket program in Astrophysics.

In August 1992, Chakrabarti joined Boston University. From 1997 to 2009 Chakrabarti became the Director of the Center for Space Physics, Boston University. Under his deliberate direction and carefully planned strategy, the center established itself as a national leader in space research.

Chakrabarti's research group moved to the University of Massachusetts, Lowell in 2012. There the group conducts active research on assessing carbon content in forests, solar-terrestrial interactions, direct imaging of exoplanets, galaxies and upper atmospheres. From November 2013, he served as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the university. He is currently the director of the university's Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology (LoCSST). From 2017, he is also serving the position of Director, Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Collaborations (UROC).[2]

Research career[edit]

Chakrabarti served on various advisory boards, professional panels and as the guest editor for technical journals and several conference proceedings. He has authored or co-authored over 160 scholarly articles,[2] over 280 research papers[4] He was awarded a U.S. patent for a UV detector. During his graduate study, Chakrabarti built a sounding rocket payload for auroral studies. He also participated in the development of a spectrograph flown U.S. Air Force STP78-1 satellite, and analyzed data from this spacecraft and the UV telescope in the Apollo-Soyuz Test Program.[2] Chakraborti was associated in terrestrial and planetary atmospheric studies in University of California. He also participated in one space shuttle and several satellite mission programs. He afterward started a sounding rocket program in Astrophysics.

In Boston University, his group developed and launched a small satellite for upper atmospheric research. Under his guidance, five undergraduate students wrote a successful proposal to NASA for a sounding rocket experiment. His team developed various new instruments and techniques for research purposes. Chakrabarty continued his research on sunlit auroras, the prediction of ionospheric disturbances (space weather) and the characterization of interplanetary hydrogen and interstellar dust.

Heading to University of Massachusetts, his group develops instrumentation for assessing carbon content in forests, solar-terrestrial interactions and direct imaging of exoplanets and conducts scientific studies of galaxies and upper atmospheres.[2] In LoCSST, he conducts studies of the Earth, stars, the Milky Way galaxy, the cosmos and the frontiers of space, and has successfully launched more than 20 space experiments aboard sounding rockets. Chakrabarti is currently also the principal investigator for UMass Lowell for the Limb-imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme-ultraviolet Spectrograph program.


NASA awarded Chakrabarti's team a $5.6 million grant to develop and test an instrument system, called Planetary Imaging Concept Testbed Using a Recoverable Experiment – Coronagraph or PICTURE C. It was the largest grant up to then. The system will potentially detect young, Jupitar-size planets orbiting other sun-like stars in the Milky Way, capable of supporting life. PICTURE C is carried aloft to the edge of Earth's atmosphere, using huge helium balloons.[2] The balloon gives the opportunity to look at multiple target by a different set of technologies.[5] According to Dr. Chakrabarti, PICTURE C enable us to study the disk of dust, asteroids, planets and other debris orbiting the stars and gain a better understanding of the processes and dynamics that formed solar system.[6]

PICTURE C made its first test flight in September 2019. The 'belloon lofted camera' instrument inflates to 400 feet (122 meters) across and takes 3 hours to climb to an altitude of about 127,000 feet (39 kilometers) and then hovers. The success of PICTURE-C test launch, makes space-based direct imaging a reality and helps NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) with such technological support.[7] The second flight will also include a microwave kinetic inductance detector (MKID) to provide spectral imaging.[8] Other members associated with Chakrabarti in the project are Timothy Cook, Kuravi Hewawasam, Susanna Finn and Christopher Mendillo. Other collaborations were made from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Goddard Space Flight Center, Caltech, MIT, the Space Telescope Science Institute and the University of California Santa Barbara.[6]

Project Blue[edit]

Chakrabarti is a member of Project Blue from UMass Lowell. Project Blue aims to design, build and launch a small and lightweight space telescope to detect habitable planets around the nearest star Alpha Centauri. Chakrabarti's team develops instrumentation for direct imaging of exoplanets in this project. The project is also associated with The BoldlyGo Institute, SETI Institute and Mission Centaur.

SPACE HAUC project[edit]

Chakrabarti is associated with Science Program Around Communication Engineering with High Achieving Undergraduate Cadres Project or SPACE HAUC project. The project provides multi-disciplinary undergraduate students with hands-on training in designing and building space-flight missions. NASA released the Undergraduate Student Instrument Project (USIP) and Student Flight Research Opportunity (SFRO) in August 2015 and Chakrabarti's team sent a proposal that was accepted under the program.[9] Chakrabarti mentors more than 75[9] undergraduate students from the Kennedy College of Sciences and the Francis College of Engineering for the project. The team's goal is to design and build a small cube satellite that will be launched by NASA into the orbit.

NASA has awarded the team $200,000 to develop and test a prototype satellite, called SPACE HAUC-1, which is the UMass Lowell's first mission to go around the Earth.[3] The program is designed to demonstrate the practicality of communicating at high data rates in the X band.

SPACE HAUC was expected to lauch in 2018, later postponed to 2020.[10] The satellite has successfully passed design review and is under the testing phase. Final assembly and integration of the spacecraft is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, and SPACE HAUC will launch to the ISS for deployment in 2020.[9] The project was selected in 2017 by NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) to be launched as part of the ELaNa program.[11]


  1. "2016 George W. Goddard Award".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Supriya Chakrabarti". UMass Lowell. Retrieved 2020-07-14.
  4. "Supriya CHAKRABARTI | University of Massachusetts Lowell, MA | UML | Department of Physics and Applied Physics".
  5. Black, Patrick (November 9, 2015). "PICTURE-B: Seeing Through the Glare". NASA.
  6. 6.0 6.1 UCSB Physics. 2020-04-21 Retrieved 2020-07-15. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. "Balloon-lofted camera built to hunt alien worlds aces first flight | Space".
  8. "PICTURE-C: A NASA Balloon Mission to Directly Image Exozodiacal Dust Around Nearby Stars". American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #231. 231. January 14, 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "About SPACE HAUC - Research - Lowell Center for Space Science & Technology". UMass Lowell. Retrieved 2020-07-15.
  10. Kulu, Erik. "SPACE HAUC 1 @ Nanosats Database". Nanosats Database.
  11. "SPACE-HAUC".

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