The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a radar satellite that can penetrate cloud cover for observation of the earth surface. The satellite would be used mainly for flood monitoring and disaster management. The radar satellite is expected to be ready in a few years.
ISRO is now gearing up for the launch of a tele-education satellite, Edusat, in September. With five spot beams in KU band, one national beam in KU band and one in extended C band with six channels, Edusat can beam audio and video signals to classrooms in remote areas across the country. The launch of the tele-education programme will see high quality lectures beamed to a large number of students through virtual classrooms equipped with interactive facility.
ISRO is tying up with universities across the country for the programme under which 1,000 virtual classrooms will be set up over the next year. A related project is aiming to bring the medical colleges in Kerala into the network. A tele-health channel will also be incorporated into the network. ISRO is also preparing an action plan to extend the telemedicine network to 500 stations across the country in one year. 17 speciality hospitals located in metros have been linked to hospitals in rural areas.
ISRO is also working on a project to set up a network of Integrated Village Resource Centres (IVRC), which would provide space-based services for community outreach. The programme will use satellite connectivity to provide remote sensing data and e-governance facilities in rural areas for activities like agricultural planning and water resource management. Three village clusters in Tamil Nadu have been identified for the project. Wayanad in Kerala is another potential target.
The second launch pad at the Sriharikotta launching station would be commissioned soon. The first launch from this pad is expected to take place early next year. ISRO scientists are developing a heavy cryogenic engine with a thrust of 20 tonnes for use in the Mark-3 version of the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle. The GSLV-Mark 3 will be capable of placing a four-tonne satellite in higher orbit and a 10-tonne satellite in lower orbit.
ISRO had taken up a project to map 180 districts for disaster management. A central database will be set up in Hyderabad. With the addition of 19 centres to the network, the districts prone to natural calamities will soon have access to a real time information system for disaster management.Currently ISRO satellites are closely monitoring the threat posed by the creation of a large water body by landslides close to the Indo-Tibetan border.