Space Applications Centre

Our Director

Nilesh M. Desai

Distinguished Scientist

Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC/ISRO), Ahmedabad

Shri Nilesh M. Desai, Distinguished Scientist, has assumed charge with effect from 1st January, 2021, as the Director of Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, a lead centre of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), for design and development of space-borne instruments and associated applications.

Born on 1st April, 1964 at Navsari, Gujarat, Shri Nilesh Desai, is a top ranker and gold-medalist of 1985/86 BE (Electronics & Communication) batch of L. D. College of Engineering, Gujarat University, Ahmedabad, India.

Immediately thereafter, in 1986, he started his professional career at SAC/ISRO, Ahmedabad in ISRO's Microwave Remote Sensing Programme (MRSP). In his thirty-five years of dedicated and illustrious engineering and research career, he has been involved in design and development of ISRO's Microwave Radar Systems, and realization of entire gamut of advanced and synergetic applications involving earth observation, navigation and communication technologies for societal benefits, governance and strategic uses.

Shri Nilesh Desai is a highly accomplished Engineer, who has successfully led the design and development of ISRO's airborne & Spaceborne Microwave Remote Sensing Payloads like RISAT-1 C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Oceansat-2 and Scatsat-1 Scatterometers, Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter SAR and Lander Altimeter and Hazard Detection & Avoidance Processing System, Airborne SAR for Disaster Management, MiniSAR etc. and associated Signal & Data Processing and Remote Sensing Applications. He was also responsible for the design & development of different types of real time data processing techniques, User Receivers for indigenous NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) satellites and SatCom Hub Earth Stations and user terminals for Mobile, Broadband & High Throughput communication satellites.

He has also served as Deputy Director of Microwave Remote Sensors Area (MRSA) and SatCom and SatNav Advanced Applications Area (SNAA/SSAA). He was elevated as Associate Director, SAC with effect from 17 Dec., 2018, wherein he led the centre with a persuasive leadership style. All these years, he has also provided leadership and direction in developing and strengthening space infrastructure and its applications. Many State-of-the-Art technologies utilized in pilot projects for governance, development and strategic use involving synergetic satellite Communication & Navigation (called ComNav) based applications were developed under his leadership. He has made considerable efforts in popularizing and proliferating usage and applications of indigenous navigation technologies like NavIC and Gagan for commercial, governmental and strategic users. He has also mentored the design of world class courses on Satellite Communication (SatCom) and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), under the aegis of United Nations Centre for Space Science and Technology Education for Asia and the Pacific (UN-CSSTEAP).

He has been the main author or co-author of about 175 technical papers presented at various national and international conferences within and outside India. He has also contributed significantly in more than 225 technical reports of SAC/ISRO. He has represented ISRO/India at various International forums at Austria, China, France, Germany, Israel, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and United Kingdom, including delegations at International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite System (ICG) meetings & conferences. Most recently, he organized and presided over the ICG-14 held in India during Dec.-2019. He is the recipient of ISRO Performance Excellence Award-2018, ISRO Individual Merit Award-2010 and ISRO Team Award for RISAT-1 Payload Design, Realization and Data products for the year-2012.

He is an advocate of outreach activities related to Indian Space Programme, in general and SatNav, SatCom and Remote Sensing & Earth Observation Programmes, in particular. He is energetic & enthusiastic and spends considerable time and energy in giving direction towards various professional and outreach activities like Vikram Sarabhai Space Exhibition, Smart India Hackathon (SIH), Popular lectures in Engineering & Science on National Science & Technology days etc. As Chief Nodal Officer of ISRO/DOS for SIH and as a mentor, he has been spearheading the organization of various outreach activities for school and college students, at SAC/ISRO.

His fields of interest and research include Data Acquisition and Digital Signal Processing for Radar, Navigation & SatCom signals, DSP and Microprocessor architectures, FPGA/ASIC hardware and VLSI designs, embedded systems and software quality assurance. He is an active and contributing life member of many professional societies like Indian Society of Remote Sensing (ISRS), Indian Society of Geomatics (ISG), Astronautical Society of India (ASI) and Indian Society of Systems for Science and Engineering (ISSE). Presently, he is serving as the National President of ISRS Executive Council, and the Vice President of ISSE-Ahm. Chapter.