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India and Earth Observation Systems

Earth observations have played a prominent role in the majority of Indian satellites launched to date. Two of the three space launches attempted by India during 1993-1994 carried Earth observation spacecraft under the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) program. IRS-1E in 1993 and IRS-P2 in 1994. This followed the launch of three Indian remote sensing spacecraft (by India, the USSR, and ESA) during the previous 2-year period. The scientific secretary of the Indian Space Research Organization, M.G. Chandrasekhar, is also the Director for Earth Observation programs.

Starting with IRS-1A in 1988, ISRO has launched many operational remote sensing satellites into orbit. Today, India has one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in operation. By 2013 the Indian Remote Sensing satellite system was one of the largest constellations of remote sensingsatellites in operation in the world. With currently twelve operational satellites in orbit TES, RESOURCESAT-1, CARTOSAT-1, CARTOSAT-2, CARTOSAT-2A, CARTOSAT-2B, IMS-1, RISAT-1, RISAT-2, OCEANSAT-2, RESOURCESAT-2 and MEGHA-TROPIQUES in IRS series of satellites which provide data in a variety of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions.

They serve as main stay of the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) besides providing data worldwide. Vital applications such as identifying zones which could yield ground water, suitable locations for recharging water, monitoring command areas, estimating crop areas and yields, assessing deforestation, mapping urban areas for planning purposes, delineating ocean areas with higher fish catch potential, monitoring of environment and scene specific spot imagery are being pursued actively by users with the space based data. The data from IRS Satellites is received worldwide through a network of International ground stations under commercial agreement with M/s. Antrix. SARAL (Satellite with Agros and Altika) is an Indo-French joint mission for oceanographic application, has been successfully launched from SDSC-SHAR on February 25, 2013 onboard PSLV-C20.

The thrust areas of Earth Observation and Atmospheric Sciences Programme for the 12th Plan 2012-2017 is in continuation of established services with improved capabilities with three thematic series of Indian EO satellites i.e. Natural resources, Cartography and Ocean & Atmosphere, including all-weather capability; development of newer state-of-the-art capabilities to meet specific user requirements; augmentation of ground segments for effective utilization of the various sensors; and special emphasis application missions in the areas of agriculture, environment, large scale mapping, infrastructure planning, oceanography, climate and atmospheric studies. To achieve the above, 8 Earth Observation missions are planned during the 12th Five Year Plan period. With the realization of these missions, there would be significant improvements in the areas of short term weather and ocean state forecasting, natural resources management, high resolution cartography, large scale mapping, space based Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) with enhanced spatial, spectral, radiometric and temporal resolution.

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