It will also enhance land and sea surface monitoring over the sub-continent and the Indian Ocean region

Insat-3D, the country’s latest satellite put in orbit on an European rocket early on Friday, is expected to sharpen weather observation and forecasting and also enhance land and sea surface monitoring over the subcontinent and the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said it plans to switch on the meteorology instruments on the satellite in the second week of August and test them extensively before starting the operations. The first routine checks showed the satellite to be performing well.

Manoeuvres

Scientists will ‘push’ the spacecraft’s initial elliptical orbit into a circular one that will be nearly 36,000 km above the ground at 82 degrees East longitude. (It was first placed in a 249 km x 35,888 km ellipse). Insat-3D will then have a period matching the Earth’s 24-hour rotation and will look fixed or geosynchronous over the sub-continent.

Post-launch, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, K. Radhakrishnan, said in Bangalore: “We are looking forward to the excellent operational performance of Insat-3D for the next seven years, making a difference for the weather forecasting and disaster warning systems for the country.” At 1.24 a.m. IST, the European Ariane-5 launcher VA214 took off from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in South America carrying Insat-3D and the 6-tonne European telecommunication satellite Alphasat.

ISRO spent around Rs. 200 crore to build the satellite and around Rs. 350 crore on its launch and insurance costs, an official said.

ISRO Satellite Centre Director S.K. Shivakumar, Satellite Communication and Navigation Programme Director N. Prahlad Rao and Insat-3D project director R.S. Rastogi were at the launch along with about a dozen ISRO scientists who were monitoring the satellite in the run-up to the event.

In the making for over seven years, the metsat supplements the decade-old and fading Kalpana-1 and Insat-3A with four sophisticated payloads.

The six-channel imager takes weather pictures of the Earth with better resolution than its predecessors. The 19-channel sounder is the first such over the region and gives layered vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone.

The data relay transponder picks and relays met, moisture and sea related information from automatic data collection platforms placed at remote uninhabited locations on to a processing centre for generating accurate forecasts.

SAR device

A search and rescue device picks up and relays distress alert signals from users on sea, land and air to an ISRO centre in Bangalore and enables speedy detection and rescue of such people.

For launch company Arianespace, which bags over half of the world’s satellite launch orders in a year, this was the 16th Indian spacecraft launched since 1981. “This is another milestone in the longstanding relationship between ISRO and Arianespace,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said.

It was the 214th Ariane vehicle to fly since 1979.

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