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India to launch radar imaging satellite

India will soon join a select club of nations by launching its own radar imaging satellite (RISAT) with an all-weather capability for disaster management, as said by a top space agency official. The Risat would be launched on board the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh in 2007, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G. Madhavan Nair told IANS.

“The Risat will be configured with a C-band search and rescue mission capable of five imaging modes and three-to-50 metre spatial resolutions. It will have a 10-224km swath with seven days repeativity and eight bits quantisation,” he said.

Though ISRO launched Cartosat-1 in the polar orbit this May with two panchromatic cameras to undertake 2.5 metre resolutions for mapping applications, the remote sensing satellite is not capable of taking pictures if clouds block the earth’s view. “With Risat we will be able to take pictures even through clouds and overcome any visibility problem,” Nair said on the sidelines of the two-day fifth anniversary celebrations of the international charter on space and major disasters.

When Risat is launched in the polar orbit, India will be part of a few space-faring countries that have similar satellites. For instance, the European Space Agency had launched Envisat in 2002 with 18 instruments to take pictures and collect data on atmosphere, climatic changes, ocean movements and other parameters.

As part of its disaster management system programme, ISRO has started working on providing geographical information system (GIS) data on about 150 districts across the country that are highly prone to cyclones, floods, droughts and other natural calamities.