The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro’s) PSLV-C38 rocket carrying Cartosat-2 and other satellites had a successful take off on Friday morning.
The rocket blasted off from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.29 am as scheduled. This will be the seventeenth flight of PSLV in the ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).
The 28-hour countdown operation for the PSLV-C38/Cartosat-2 series satellite mission started on Thursday at 05:29 hours IST after the mission readiness review committee and launch authorisation board cleared the countdown on Wednesday.
This is the 40th flight of Isro’s workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The PSLV-C38 is carrying the 712-Kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 30 co-passenger satellites, together weighing about 243 Kg at lift-off, into a 505-Km Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.
The primary cargo, the Cartosat-2 series satellite, is a remote sensing satellite.
The co-passenger satellites comprise 30 nano satellites from India and 14 other countries — Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and the United States of America. The total weight of all the satellites carried onboard PSLV-C38 is about 955 Kg.
The 30 international customer nano satellites are being launched as part of commercial arrangements with Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), Isro’s commercial arm.
What does the Cartosat satellite do?
When Indian Army soldiers crossed the Line of Control last year to conduct surgical strikes against terrorists, they had help from an “eye in the sky”. Now, Isro is strengthening this capability with the launch of an earth observation satellite belonging to the Cartosat-2 series.
The mission’s primary objective is to provide high-resolution, scene-specific spot imagery. This is similar in configuration to earlier satellites in the series.
The satellite, the seventh in the Cartosat series, is capable of along-track and across-track steering, up to 26 degree nominally. This will allow it to provide images in continuous imaging mode.
Weighing 700 Kg, the satellite will be hurled into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit at a nominal altitude of 500 Km. The project has been allocated Rs 160 crore and the satellite is expected to help in the preparation of high-resolution maps using pictures from the panchromatic camera loaded on it. It will also have a high-resolution, multi-spectral instrument, which will help in high-resolution land observation and cartography, working in tandem with the Panchromatic camera.
Apart from taking pictures, it can also record videos from the sky. The pictures and videos would be helpful in a wide range of activities, including military and civil planning.
The images from this satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban & rural applications, coastal land use & regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features, and various other land information system and geographical information system applications.
The future earth observation programme envisages the continuity of the thematic series of satellites — the Resourcesat, Cartosat, Oceansat, RISAT, and INSAT series for land, water, ocean, and meteorological satellites. It also envisages placing a geo-imaging satellite in geostationary orbit to enable near real-time imaging.
The overall aim is to maintain the continuity of services and carry out enhancements in technological capabilities with respect to sensors and payloads to meet operational applications. In this regard, Isro plans to design, develop, and launch Cartosat-3 and Oceansat-3. In the future, Isro will also launch more satellites from the INSAT series for meteorological applications.
Cartosat-1, the first in the series of earth observation satellites, was launched on May 5, 2005, using the PSLV-C6 launch vehicle, followed by Cartosat-2 on January 10, 2007. The launch of more satellites will help the country to become self-reliant and reduce the cost of getting such images from external sources.