Its images will help to monitor crop yield, snow-cover and glaciers

The remote-sensing satellite, Resourcesat-2, put up by PSLV-C16 on Wednesday, “will become a workhorse for the global community” with the huge data it will send back on the earth's resources, said R.R. Navalgund, Director, Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad.

The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16) put three satellites in orbit – India's 1,206-kg Resourcesat-2, the Indo-Russian 93-kg Youthsat and the 106-kg X-Sat from the Nangyang Technological University of Singapore. The Resourcesat-2 is a continuation of Resourcesat-1, launched in October 2003, but has enhanced capability, he said. The SAC built the Resourcesat-2 payloads.

Dr. Navalgund called the Resourcesat-2 “an extremely important satellite” because it had three cameras mounted on a single platform with a high resolution, medium resolution and coarse resolution. The images from the satellite would be useful in monitoring the earth's resources, including crop yield before harvest, the snow-cover in mountains, the glaciers advancing or the changes in the coastal zones and the urban landscape; locating groundwater; and realigning roads in rural areas. “You can collect data from the entire globe. So, there will be a great demand for this kind of data which is available from the Resourcesat-2. It can provide data more frequently. It will become the workhorse for monitoring the resources of the entire earth for the global community,” Dr. Navalgund said.

T.K. Alex, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, which integrated the Resourcesat-2, said the satellite was doing well after its solar panels were deployed soon after it reached the orbit. The cameras would be operated from April 28, when the first set of pictures would reach the ground. “Everybody is looking forward to using the images of the Resourcesat-2, and we hope it will meet the requirements of the entire globe.”

The Youthsat's three payloads — one from Russia and two from India — would be useful in studying the solar X-ray and gamma ray fluxes, and the influence of the activities in the sun on the upper layers of the earth's atmosphere. The X-Sat is a remote-sensing satellite that can process the images it takes and send more refined images to the ground.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said the PSLV-C16 and the Resourcesat-2 and the Youthsat together cost Rs.250 crore. The ISRO launched the X-Sat on a commercial basis, but he declined to disclose the sum received by Antrix Corporation, the Department of Space's commercial arm.

The ISRO-built communication satellite, GSAT-8, weighing 3,200 kg, will be put in orbit on May 19 by the Ariane vehicle of Arianespace from French Guiana. “All preparations are going on for the launch, which will take place at 1.30 a.m. IST on May 19. It will have 24 transponders in the Ku-band [used for telecasting],” Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

P.S. Veeraraghavan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, said ISRO would launch several satellites from Sriharikota in the coming months. The PSLV-C17 would put in orbit India's communication satellite, GSAT-12, by June end or in the first week of July. The next satellite PSLV-C18 would deploy the Indo-French Megha-Tropiques satellite in August for studying the clouds in the tropical region. In the last quarter of 2011, the PSLV-C19 would put in orbit the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT), a 1,100-kg micro-wave remote-sensing satellite.

Asked why the connectors in the GSLV-F06 snapped on December 25, 2010, leading to the mission's failure, Mr. Veeraraghavan said a shroud covered the rear portion of the Russian upper cryogenic stage. The connectors between the equipment bay and the first stage snapped within seconds of the lift-off, though they should have snapped after the second stage separation. This happened because the shroud had structurally failed.

The failure of the turbo-pump in the indigenous cryogenic stage in the GSLV-D3, which led to the mission's failure in April 20, 2010, had been analysed, said S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), ISRO. A test of the modified turbo-pump at the LPSC, Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu, was successful on April 19, 2011.