Apr 2018 | No Comment

India and France agree to enhance cooperation in space technology

India and France issued a Joint Vision for Space Cooperation, during the recent visit of French President, Mr Emmanuel Macron, to India.

The vision lists specific areas for future cooperation between the Indian and French space agencies, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organistion) and CNES (Centre national d’études spatiales), and build on the historical linkages between India and France in the area of civilian space. The Indo-French relationship in space is spread over different facets of space science, technology and applications, including sounding rocket development, liquid engine development, hosting of payloads, joint satellite realization, training programmes, satellite communication experiments and satellite launches. The cooperation initiatives outlined below will be executed through suitable existing or new joint mechanisms, including with inter-agency representations, led by ISRO and CNES.

To realise the societal benefits of space technology, both sides will cooperate in remote sensing of earth using satellites. This includes: 1) joint development of advanced instruments and joint missions to study weather and climate; 2) sharing of data including direct reception from each other’s Earth observation missions meant for Meteorology, Oceanography, Resource inventory and Cartography; and 3) sharing of expertise in data analysis including algorithm development and modelling to derive useful information for the benefit of humanity.

The partnership will be extended to the area of high resolution earth observation leading up to a joint earth observation mission with high resolution imaging capability in optical and microwave domains. ISRO and CNES will share expertise on satellite navigation, notably on system performance assessment by independent means (for instance through reference stations in France and India to improve satellites’ orbit determination and clock estimation for the Indian and European navigational systems); and navigation applications.

EC and DOS of India signed landmark co-op arrangement to share EOS data

To allow the benefits of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation and Monitoring programme and of the Indian fleet of remote sensing satellites to extend beyond the borders of the partners, in Bangalore, on 19 March, the European Commission (EC) and India’s Department of Space (DOS) signed a landmark Cooperation Arrangement related to sharing of Earth observation satellite (EOS) dataThe Copernicus programme provides a wide range of applications, e.g. climate change, land, ocean and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in the forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters. Its full, free and open data policy has proven its merits by allowing the development of a thriving user base in Europe and beyond. On the other hand, India has developed an ambitious and wide-ranging Earth Observation programme, which is managed by the DOS of India and implemented by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Under this arrangement, the European Commission intends to provide India with free, full and open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub. Reciprocally the Indian DOS will provide the Copernicus programme and its participating states with a free, full and open access to the data from ISRO’s Earth observation satellites including historical data sets. It is intended that ISRO’s satellite data will be made available for distribution on the European ‘Copernicus hub’. This comprises land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Megha- Tropiques, Scatsat-1, SARAL, INSAT- 3D, INSAT-3DR) with the exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data. The Cooperation Arrangement includes technical assistance for the establishment of high bandwidth connections with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sites, in particular through setting up of mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.

Considering the importance of in situ observations, which are complementary to space-based observations, the Indian DOS will facilitate access to in situ data from its regional observatory networks of geophysical and meteorological data, to support the enhancement of the Copernicus data architecture and towards development of global products. ISRO will co-ordinate access to in situ data and promote the use of information and data provided by the Copernicus programme with various institutions and government agencies, particularly the environmental sector and all other users, including academia and the private sector. This Cooperation Arrangement is also expected to lead to the development of an active downstream sector in the European Union and in India, as well as to joint product development. They aim at facilitating the involvement of diverse users in the development of products and services.

In particular, both sides intend to encourage cooperation on data processing for common use in line with the EUIndia Agenda for Action-2020, e.g. longterm management of natural resources, monitoring of marine and coastal areas, water resource management, impacts of climate variability and climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, food security and rural development, infrastructure for territorial development and health management issues. The Cooperation Arrangement has been signed in Bangalore on 19 March by Mr Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence, on behalf of the European Commission and by Dr PG Diwakar, Scientific Secretary, ISRO on behalf of the Department of Space of India.

After ‘incomplete’ CZMP, IRS told to add details of fisherfolk

Almost a month after publishing the draft State Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), the Department of Environment has asked the Institute of Remote Sensing (IRS) to carry out micro-level coastal mapping to identify fishermen assets, a detail that should have been in CZMP before being published for public comments.

In a series of orders, the National Green Tribunal has categorically said, States are duty bound to strictly adhere to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2011 while preparing CZMPs. However, the State’s draft management plan, prepared by the National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management (NCSCM), lacks critical information mandated by the notification to protect the coast from unscientific exploitation, it is pointed out.

For instance, while classifying CRZ areas under hazard mapping, the States should identify the fishing villages, common property of fishermen communities, fishing jetties, ice plants, fish drying platforms or infrastructure facilities of fishing and local communities such as dispensaries, roads, schools, and the like. They should be indicated on the cadastral scale maps. States also should prepare detailed plans for longterm housing needs of coastal fisher communities in view of expansion and other needs, besides disaster preparedness.

According to sources in IRS, a MoU has been signed with environment department to conduct micro-level 1:4000 scale mapping to identify fishermen assets.

China launches latest land surveying satellite into space

On March 17, 2018, China marked its eighth orbital launch of 2018 to send the fourth Land Surveying Satellite into space. Given that the task of the mission was to deliver the satellite into a low-Earth orbit (LEO), the flight most likely lasted for about 10 minutes.

Land Surveying Satellite-4 (also known as LKW-4, Ludikancha Weixing-4 or Yaogan Weixing-34) was built by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). It is believed to be an electrooptical observation satellite based on the military Jianbing-6 series. The spacecraft most likely utilizes uses the CAST-2000 bus, which has a dry mass of about one metric ton.

Remote sensing centre for fodder crop estimation in Gujarat

In a bid to provide milk producers information on fodder cultivation and production estimates, Amul has set up a satellite remote sensing centre in Anand, Gujarat in India, which would cover Kaira, Anand and Mahisagar districts. Initially, five districts of Central and North Gujarat will be covered for fodder crop estimation.

In 2017, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and ISRO had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to this effect.

The centre would help milk producers know when to initiate cultivation of fodder crop by using satellite images. The first remote sensing centre for estimation of fodder crops in Kaira and Anand districts was opened at Amul Dairy in Anand recently. It would gradually be scaled up to all the districts of Gujarat through the respective milk unions of the GCMMF. This is an innovative way to help milk producers know when to initiate cultivation of fodder crop by use of satellite images.

It would help farmers estimate fodder production, plan to grow/ intensify production and improve availability, leading to increase in milk production and economic benefit. This would pave a new era in fodder crop management using satellite data, Amul said in a

Frankincense tree research in Oman using RS

Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and University of Nizwa (UON) have come together to use the GIS and remote sensing techniques to study frankincense trees in select areas of the Dhofar region. It is difficult to study frankincense trees because they are widespread and many of them are located at a high altitude on mountains and hills.

By using GIS and remote sensing techniques, however, one can overcome this problem of inaccessibility by using imagery to study the species. Work on the study titled “Mapping and change detection study of frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) using GIS database and remote sensing techniques in Huluf, Wadi Sahnut, and Wadi Dawkah in Dhofar” is likely to get underway within this month.

Copernicus Data Warehouse offers 40 cm imagery

On March 16, the European Space Agency released an updated version of the Copernicus Data Access Portfolio offering 40 cm imagery from the WorldView-3, WorldView-2, and GeoEye-1 satellite missions. This is the highest resolution imagery ever offered to Copernicus users who are eligible to order rush image tasking through the service. These users include the Copernicus Emergency Management Service and the European organisations operating the Copernicus Security Service: FRONTEX, the European Union Satellite Centre, and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The 40 cm resolution data is available for both standard orders and time-critical rush orders. On average, imagery ordered from the archive in the rush mode takes less than 2 hours to be delivered, and new image collections less than 3 hours, enabling agencies to respond to critical situations in a timely manner.

Greece launches its own space agency

Greece launched its first space agency as an effort to rebuild the ailing economy as it exits a severe eight-year debt crisis. Entering into the space sector can make Greece stronger and more productive, increasing the country’s standing in many ways. Greece has been a member of ESA since 2005 and has invested millions of euros in ESA’s research programmes but was one of the few member states lacking a national institution.

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