ISRO is planning a series of dedicated small satellite missions to study the earth’s atmosphere using space borne instruments to help find solutions to global warming and changing weather conditions. A mini satellite, weighing about 100 kgs, will be launched in two years to study the earth’s atmosphere and help unravel possible climate changes and the impact on the earth due to these activities.
The satellites will study the changes taking place on the stratosphere—the lowermost portion of earth’s atmosphere and the one in which the most weather phenomena occur and stratosphere—a layer of earth’s atmosphere, due to pollution in the South and South East Asian region and estimate their impact. The satellite will also study the electric and magnetic fields and neutral temperatures and winds, similar to the upcoming Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS) mission of the Air Force Research Laboratory in the US and Brazil’s Equatorial Atmospheric Research Satellite (EQUARS) that monitors the atmospheric conditions in the Equator.
The mini-satellites, which are likely to cost about Rs 25 lakhs, would ride as an additional passenger on the homegrown rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with a heavier remote sensing or communication satellite. The other satellites include one dedicated for astronomy. Earlier the atmospheric studies were being carried out by rocket or balloon borne instruments, but for effective monitoring on a continuous basis instead from fixed locations, the new proposal called the Small Satellites for Atmospheric and Space Sciences (SSASS) mission has been taken up.