The launch campaign at the spaceport at Sriharikota is accelerating for the lift-off of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C14), which will put seven satellites in orbit. The launch is most likely to take place on September 23.
While the 960-kg Oceansat-2 is from India, the remaining six, all from abroad, are micro satellites weighing between one and eight kg. They are four Cubesats and two Rubinsats.
“The four-stage vehicle is fully integrated. We are going through the tests. After the vehicle is fully checked out, we will take in the satellites [that is, the satellites will be married up with the rocket],” said a top Indian Space Research Organisation engineer associated with the mission. It will be a core-alone PSLV version that will inject the satellites into orbit. The sleek, chiselled-looking vehicle does not have the six strap-on motors that surround the first stage in the standard PSLV version.
The vehicle’s fourth stage will fire five satellites, one after another into orbit, akin to the “salvo of rockets issuing from a multi-barrel rocket launcher,” another ISRO engineer said. After Oceansat-2 is slotted into its orbit first, a spring-loaded action would “push the chota fellows out” one after another. The two Rubinsats would not be ejected. They would remain permanently attached to the vehicle’s fourth stage. “The Rubins will not be separated. They will do their work while they are attached to the PSLV’s fourth stage. There will be no problem in that,” he explained.
Oceansat-2 will continue to do the work done by Oceansat-1. It will investigate the interaction between oceans and the atmosphere to facilitate study of climate. It will study the wind above the oceans, and the sea surface temperature. The satellite will help in identifying schools of fish, predicting the state of the sea, keeping a tab on the phytoplankton blooms and studying suspended sediments in water.
S. Satish, Director, Publications and Publications, ISRO, said: “Oceans cover about 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. Considering the importance of oceans as a source of food for humans and their role in shaping the earth’s weather and climate, and their influence on the biological life cycle, study of oceans is cardinal. In this context, the Oceansat-2 mission acquires added significance.”
Study the colour of oceans
One of the payloads of Oceansat-2, called Ocean Colour Monitor, will study the colour of oceans. “This will help in effective fishing,” an ISRO scientist explained. Another payload, scatterometer, will investigate the interaction between the oceans and the atmosphere. In addition, there is a payload from the Italian Space Agency for studying the atmosphere.
The four Cubesats are from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, Technical University of Berlin and University of Wurzburg, both in Germany, and Istanbul Technical University. These Cubesats weigh one kg each. The two Rubinsats, weighing eight kg each, are from Luxembourg and Germany. All the six will test advanced satellite and application technologies.
ISRO created a record in April 2008 when another PSLV core-alone version billeted home 10 satellites including India’s Cartosat-2A.