It will offer India and its neighbours Position Navigation and Timing service

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to implement the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) to provide India and neighbouring countries with the Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) service, S.V. Kibe, Brahmprakash Professor in the ISRO Headquarters, Bangalore, said on Wednesday.

The government had approved the project, which would be implemented in the next few years. Initially, the system would have seven satellites and then 11, he said, addressing the Space Summit at the 98th Indian Science Congress at Kattankulathur near here.

At present, two space navigation systems operate in the world — the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). The Galileo of Europe and China's COMPASS (Beidou) are likely to start working in five to 10 years.

Giving an example of the application of the satellite navigation system, Prof. Kibe said a combination of satellite navigation and satellite communication had resulted in the production of handset phones capable of communication and position determination.

He said the ISRO's GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) project was being implemented for the benefit of civil aviation. It would especially be useful in aircraft landing.

“For landing, you need accuracy of less than six metres.” Despite being useful in position, GPS did not offer the guarantee of service, he said, and this shortcoming would be addressed in the GPS augmentation system like GAGAN.

Talking about the challenges in space observations, R.R. Navalgund, Director, ISRO Space Applications Centre, said very high resolution system, instruments to measure accurately greenhouse gases and constellation of satellites for disaster monitoring, besides long-term calibrated climate data records of land, ocean and atmosphere, would be required to assess the likely scenario of changes in the resources of the earth.

Delivering a talk on small satellites, T.K. Alex, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, said some Indian universities and other organisations developed and launched small satellites through the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.

The SRM University, which is hosting the Congress, was developing one and expected to launch it soon.

On space biology, P. Dayanandan, emeritus professor, said 14 nations of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group, including India, were hopeful that one day, human beings might live and work in other destinations within the solar system. The most challenging of all problems in space colonisation would be to provide a permanent life support system.

The research now focused on building bio-regenerative systems, which would be based on the principle of biospherics that imitated the life-sustaining biosphere of the earth.

He appealed to the Union government and the ISRO to establish a comprehensive space biology programme and give academic institutions greater encouragement.

V. Adimurthy, Satish Dhawan Professor, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, said future challenges in space transport offered a scenario that would be marked by multi-disciplinary optimisation and the cooperation among academia, industry and aerospace agencies across the countries.