India to join elite club for climatic changes' studies

Last Updated: Sun, Sep 11, 2011 20:50 hrs

India is on the way to joining an elite club which today has only the US and Japan among its members.

India will launch on October 12 a satellite dedicated to studying climatic and atmospheric changes in the tropical regions. The project is a collaboration between the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the French space agency.

India, hence, becomes only the second country to launch such a space mission after the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), the joint space mission between the US-based National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall. But, that satellite was launched way back on November 27, 1997.

While the TRMM spacecraft in a similar low orbit is at an inclination of 35 degrees to the equator, Megha-Tropiques will orbit at a low inclination of 10-20 degrees to north-south of the equator to enhance observational capability of the rapidly-developing tropical systems and will enable monitoring of weather and climate over the entire tropical regions, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishanan said.

“If all goes well, we will launch the satellite on October 12 to an orbit of 870 km with an inclination of 20 degrees to the equator to study the lifecycle of convective systems and their role in the energy and moisture budget of the atmosphere in tropical regions,” Radhakrishnan said.

Megha-Tropiques, the satellite, is made of two words — ‘Megha which stands for cloud in Sanskrit and ‘Tropiques’ which is French for tropics. The satellite is dedicated to studying climatic and atmospheric changes in the tropical regions in collaboration with the French space agency.

ISRO is giving the final touches to the ambitious Indo-French advanced tropical climate monitoring satellite which is expected to be launched from the Sriharikota spaceport, SHAR, on October 12.

As a joint venture between the two countries, the ISRO will bear the launch cost of Rs 90 crore. For the satellite payload, ISRO has incurred a cost of Rs 80 crore and the French space agency — Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES) has contributed Rs 300 crore.

Of the three instruments aboard the satellite, MADRAS has been built jointly by the

ISRO and CNES, while other two have been built by the French space agency. About 30 minutes after lift-off, the ISRO’s telemetry, tracking and command network (ISTRAC) will take control of the satellite and the instruments on-board will be switched on during the following three weeks.

The 1,000-kg satellite will be launched onboard the 230-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the spaceport at Sriharikota, SHAR.

The satellite will carry an Imaging Radiometer Microwave Analysis and Detection of Rain and Atmospheric Structures (MADRAS), a six-channel humidity sounder (SAPHIR), a four-channel Scanner for Radiation Budget Measurement (SCARAB) and GPS Radio Occultation System (GPS-ROS), Radhakrishanan added.

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