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ISRO’s sharpest ‘civilian’ eye to help map change in land use, plan infrastructure development


BENGALURU/SRIHARIKOTA: In a morale-booster after the failure of Chandrayaan-2’s lander Vikram on September 7, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday successfully placed in orbit the Cartosat-3, the most advanced earth imaging and mapping satellite.

This is expected to address the increasing user demand for large-scale urban planning, rural resource, infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover.

The satellite was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre’s (SDSC), Sriharikota, at 9.28 am along with 13 commercial nano-satellites from the USA onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)-C47.

This was the 21st flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with 6 solid strap-on motors), and the 74th launch mission from SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota. Corporation, the commercial arm of the ISRO.

The Cartosat-3 was placed in a Sun-synchronous polar orbit 17 minutes and 38 seconds after lift-off, at an altitude of 509 km and at an inclination of 97.5 degrees.

After separation from the launcher, the solar arrays of Cartosat-3 were deployed automatically and the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite. In the coming days, it will be brought to its final operational configuration.

The satellite has a panchromatic camera with the highest resolution among civilian satellites in the world — it is capable of capturing images of objects that are larger than 25 cm in dimension.

The high-resolution images will provide much more valuable data to users to determine changes in land use or cropping patterns, coastal erosion surveillance, for planning infrastructure in a more systematic manner and establishing changes in forest cover to take corrective measures, if required.  

‘Camera useful for on-ground surveillance’

The high-resolution camera, although meant for civilian use, presents itself as a powerful tool for on-ground security surveillance too, a senior ISRO scientist said. The mission life of Cartosat-3, a third-generation agile satellite with a total mass of 1,600 kg, is five years.

It is the ninth in the Cartosat series, and the first in the third generation Cartosat family, which will replace the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) series.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan said Cartosat-3 is the highest resolution civilian satellite, even as ISRO scientists have touted it as a big advance on previous payloads in the Cartosat series. “Cartosat-3 is the most complex and advanced earth observation satellite built by ISRO,” Sivan said after the successful launch.

He congratulated the launch vehicle and teams involved in the mission and acknowledged the support from the Indian industry while adding that ISRO has a tight schedule ahead with 13 missions up to March — six large vehicle missions and seven satellite missions.