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ISRO to launch OCEANSAT-2 in 2008

Ahmedabad, India, 14 February 2007 – India will get sharper eyes to track ravaging cyclones and forecast monsoon when the Indian Space Reserach Organisation (ISRO) launches the indigenously-built INSAT-3D and Oceansat-2 satellites next year.

ISRO will launch the indigenously built Oceansat-2 in 2008 which will play an important role in forecasting the onset of monsoon and its subsequent advancement over the Indian peninsula, said Abhijit Sarkar, a scientist at the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO here. The mission will involve a total estimated cost of Rs 129.15 crore (about $32 million) with a foreign exchange component of Rs 86 crore (about $21 million). With the realisation of the Oceansat-2 mission, India will have the wherewithal to cover many applications pertaining to ocean and meteorology.

“Oceansat-2 satellite will have a Ocean Colour Monitor which will help identify potential areas for fishery. It will also carry radar scatterometer which will measure the sea surface level winds,” Sarkar added. “Through the measurement of these winds, the condition of the sea can be predicted which will help ships navigating through the region,” he explained.

Apart from the Oceansat-2 ISRO will be launching INSAT-3D. “The INSAT-3D satellite will be one of the three weather satellites that ISRO will launch in the next couple of years,” said Abhijit Sarkar, a scientist at the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of ISRO here. “These three weather satellites will improve weather forecasts and will keep a track of phenomena like cyclones and monsoon,” he added.

“INSAT-3D will be a geo-stationary satellite and will be launched in 2008,” he said. Geostationary satellites orbit the Earth’s equatorial plane at a height of 38,500 km. At this height, the satellite’s orbit matches the rotation of the Earth, so the satellite seem to stay stationary over the same point on the equator. This is ideal for making regular observations of cloud patterns and helps in detecting formation of cyclones, Sarkar explained.

“INSAT-3D will carry two sensors: a high resolution radiometer which will monitor rainfall, sea surface temperature and cloud movements and a sounder which will give profiles of temperature and humidity,” Sarkar remarked. This satellite will do the all-important tracking of cyclones that emerge from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea,” he said.

“The INSAT-3D will also help in monitoring the path the cyclones might take and thereby predict the time and place of the land-fall (place where the cyclone hits land) of the tropical cyclone,” Sarkar said. “This will be of great help in issuing warnings and carry out timely evacuation before catastrophe strikes,” he said.

One more weather satellite called the ‘Megha-Tropiques’ is an Indo-French collaborative effort and will be launched in 2009 using a spacecraft built by ISRO, Sarkar said. “Though the satellite is Indian, a large portion of the sensors has been built by the French National Space Centre (CNES),” he said.

“Megha-Tropiques (Megha meaning cloud in Sanskrit and Tropiques meaning tropics in French) is a polar-orbiting satellite dedicated to atmospheric research. It will also track systems which will give rain and collect climate-related informations,” Sarkar added.

– About OCEANSAT-1
The OCEANSAT-1, launched in May, 1999, has payloads specifically tailored for the measurement of physical and biological oceanography parameters. An Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) with 8 narrow spectral bands and a Multi-frequency Scanning Microwave Radiometer (MSMR) operating in 4 frequencies will provide valuable ocean-surface related observations capability.