Thursday, October 23, 2008

India has the world's largest Remote sensing satellite constellation

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has always worked on projects, which have benefited the country as a whole and perhaps is the only space agency in the world involved purely in this work (except now that it has launched programs for exploration beyond the Earth's trajectory).

In this connection, as Indians we must be proud of the fact that our remote sensing satellite constellation is the largest in the world used solely for civilian purposes. We have now 8 satellites in a constellation. They are:

1) IRS 1-D
2) Oceansat - 1 (monitors the chlorophyll content of oceans and the sea surface temperature. ISRO scientists use the information to identify areas where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from the ocean floor, which in turn attract fish)
3)Technology Experiment Satellite
4) Resourcesat - 1
5) Cartosat - 1
6) Cartosat - 2
7) Cartosat 2A (capable of detecting missile launches in all regions surrounding India. Also, it can real time 3D mappings of regions in the world. Check out this image of Delhi got from the satellite)
8) IMS 1

These provide the following services:

  • Preharvest crop area and production estimation of major crops.
  • Drought monitoring and assessment based on vegetation condition.
  • Flood risk zone mapping and flood damage assessment.
  • Hydro-geomorphological maps for locating underground water resources for drilling well.
  • Irrigation command area status monitoring
  • Snow-melt run-off estimates for planning water use in down stream projects
  • Land use and land cover mapping
  • Urban planning
  • Forest survey
  • Wetland mapping
  • Environmental impact analysis
  • Mineral Prospecting
  • Coastal studies
  • Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (initiated in 1992) for generating locale-specific prescriptions for integrated land and water resources development in 174 districts.

National Remote Sensing Agency(NRSA) in Hyderabad is the central agency in India that collects all signals from this constellation.

The best part is ISRO has already linked 69 hospitals in remote areas of India such as the Andaman Islands to 19 hospitals in India's main cities. A health worker in a remote location can then transmit a patient's medical information to a specialist in seconds and, in many cases, a video consultation is sufficient for diagnosis.

If government could realize enormous potential of this reality it can bring drastic changes in a abysmal health system we have.


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