HYDERABAD: All at sea for over 10 hours about the whereabouts of the missing Bell - 430 Helicopter, carrying Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy on September 2, the State Government frantically sought the help of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
As the panic stricken officials got in touch with Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) for its assistance in the search of the chopper that took off at 8.35 a.m. from Begumpet airport on Wednesday, an email from the AP Government to NASA was enough for the US space agency to swing into action to extend much sought after help.
Around 7 p.m. that day, the office of Chief Secretary P. Ramakanth Reddy managed to contact Douglas L Rickman of the Earth Science office, Global Hydrology and Climate Center, NASA. Within minutes, a team of NASA scientists was put in place to access the satellite images.
NASA scientists -Ashutosh S. Limaye and Dr. Jim Smooth – were on the job of processing the created imagery. In fact, so prompt was the NASA response that they created a site ( ftp://ftp.nsstc.org/outgoing/Rickman/data_for_india) where processed imagery was made available for the use of AP Government.
During the eight hours that the NASA scientists were on the job, four images were created, processed and uploaded on the dedicated site. NASA informed that State Government officials through an email that the cloud cover in the area was virtually complete.
It also said that the lightning imager was a good way to find unusual storm activity, which could be associated with air turbulence or lightning but added that no intense activity was witnessed in the area.
Official sources said that the images when forwarded to the authorities in the field did help in locating the ill-fated chopper. “The prompt response from NASA went a long in expediting the process,” they said. He mentioned about Mr. Douglas Rickman’s mail that said though NASA did not have many satellites that look at India on a continuous basis, there were some that passed overhead a couple of times.