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Cartosat-2E: Why the Earth Observation satellite is so important for India

ISRO will launch an earth observation satellite later this month, which is expected to add value to India’s national intelligence and defense policy.

After weeks of long suspense, the launch date of ISRO‘s next in-order earth observation satellite, Cartosat-2E was announced. The satellite will be launched on June 23, with 30 nanosats from foreign countries, including the US.

The launch mission will be carried out by ISRO‘s proven workhorse, PSLV C-38 rocket from the first launch pad at Sriharikota spaceport at 09:29 AM IST. If succeeds, the satellite will add value to India’s national intelligence and defense policy.

The satellite will join the Cartosat-2 fleet, whose bird – Cartosat-2C – was used by the Indian armed forces last year to conduct the surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC).

The objective of this launch is to provide high-resolution imagery to help India develop its surveillance capabilities.

Similar to its predecessors: Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B, the satellite will be injected in a 505km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit. The Cartosat-series satellite carries a state-of-the-art panchromatic (PAN) camera that takes black and white pictures of the earth in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Apart from taking pictures, it can also record videos from the sky, which will help the country in a wide range of activities, including military and civil planning.

Equipped with a high-resolution PAN camera that covers up to 9.6 km range, provides a spatial resolution with accuracy less than 1 meter. The seventh satellite in the Cartosat series is capable of a long-track and across-track steering, up to 26 degree nominally. This will allow it to provide images in continuous imaging mode.

The launch will ensure the continuity of services and carry out enhancements in technological capabilities with respect to sensors and payloads to meet operational applications.

The nano satellites will include 29 from 14 different countries – Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the UK and the US. There will be one nano satellite from India made by students of Noorul Islam University in Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.

The 712kg weighing Cartosat-2E is the sixth satellite in the Cartosat-2 series. It will provide regular remote sensing services using its panchromatic and multispectral cameras.

The images sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features and various other land information system (LIS) as well as geographical information system (GIS) applications.

The satellite can produce images of up to 100-cm in resolution, compared to the 80-cm offered by Ikonos that is operated by DigitalGlobe, which is multispectral. In the past, India used to buy huge bulk of these images from Ikonos for about $20 per sq. km. But now, with Cartosat-2 offering 20 times better resolution at lower a cost, India declined buying images from Ikonos.