CARTOSAT is a part of a long planned and strategised vision

CARTOSAT is a part of a long planned and strategised vision


K R Sridhara Murthi
K R Sridhara Murthi
Executive Director
Antrix Corporation, India

It seems that CARTOSAT has re-affirmed ISRO’s commitment in the Remote Sensing and space ventures sector. What are your thoughts just after this launch?
CARTOSAT is a part of a long range and strategised vision. It is an important tool for a national system called the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) for which the Department of Space (DOS) is the nodal agency. As you know NNRMS focuses on integrated approach to resource management. It aims at optimal utilization of the country’s natural resources by proper and systematic inventory of them. Key to this process is information, which can be kept up-to-date by using remote sensing technology. Indian Remote Sensing satellites thus form an important part of NNRMS in order to provide continuous and timely data for the management of natural resources of the country. The key components of NNRMS are conceptualization and implementation of a state of the art space segment along with necessary ground-based data reception, processing and interpretation systems and also systems for integrating the satellite-based data with conventional data.

A series of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites have been launched by India starting with IRS-1A in March 1988. CARTOSAT-1 is the latest satellite, which fills the gap so far existed for of high-resolution terrain data. Now, IRS system has seven remote sensing satellites in orbit – IRS-1C, IRS-P3, IRS-1D, OCEANSAT-1, TES, RESOURCESAT-1and CARTOSAT-1 – making IRS system the largest civilian remote sensing satellite constellation.

Is there a revenue model? How is CARTOSAT-1 products positioned vis-à-vis globally available multi-spectral products?
The revenue model is mainly based on data product sale through International Ground Station network. These stations will have direct access to satellite for down linking of data and they will process the data using proprietary hardware and software supplied from Antrix. Existing ground stations need only marginal investment to acquire capability to receive, decode, decompress and process the data. Each station will have a defined territory where they will be licensed to exclusively sell data products. In addition to the above, in territories not covered by International Ground Stations, data demands will be met through data recorded through on-board recorder. Antrix will also have appropriate arrangements with the providers of commercial image processing and photogrammetry software packages, for enabling integration of Cartosat-1 data products. As regards to product positioning, you will note that Cartosat-1 data are still not fully matched by any other system. In addition, the systematic coverage pattern of this mission enables better turn around for large-scale projects.

What are the restriction issues with respect to the access of data and products of CARTOSAT-1 within India? Shall there be dilution of accuracy for civilian use?
The data will be available to both Government and private sector users following the same principles as already in practice for 5 meter data from earlier satellites. There is no dilution to quality of data supplied to civilian users.

Which are the key application areas where the data from CARTOSAT can be of immense value?
All those applications, which need terrain information at higher resolutions, will be immensely benefited by Cartosat-1 data. Such applications are wide ranging and should include urban information systems, disaster management support information, infrastructure planning and so on. Already, data from IRS satellites are used in applications such as land use/cover mapping for agro climatic zones planning, wasteland mapping, forest cover mapping, wetland mapping, crop acreage and production estimation, National River Action Plan for Sewerage Treatment Plants, Coastal Zone Regulation mapping, National Resources Information System, etc. All such applications can further benefit from both mono and stereo data at 2.5m resolution level.

As you must be aware, CARTOSAT-1 will be followed by CARTOSAT-2, which will have a spatial resolution of about one meter. A Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT), carrying a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) with a spatial resolution of 3 to 50 m and a swath of 10 km to 240 km is under development. With all weather remote sensing capability, RISAT will enhance remote sensing applications in the areas of agriculture and disaster management. RISAT is slated for launch by 2007. Hence, the total constellation of IRS satellites can practically be an answer to any application for development.

HAMSAT was also launched along with CARTOSAT. What is the objective and is there a relation?
HAMSAT is a micro satellite for providing satellite based Amateur Radio Services to the national as well as the international community of Amateur Radio Operators (HAMs). HAMSAT was launched just as an auxiliary payload along with CARTOSAT-1. The 42.5 kg HAMSAT is supposed to meet the long felt need of the Amateur Radio Operators in the South Asian region who possess the required equipment and operate in the UHF/VHF band based satellite radio communication.

One of the transponders of HAMSAT has been developed indigenously involving Indian HAMs, with the expertise of ISRO and the experience of AMSAT-INDIA. The second transponder has been developed by a Dutch Amateur Radio Operator and Graduate Engineering student at Higher Technical Institute, Venlo, The Netherlands.