Venezuela signed manufacturing contract with China for the development of its remote sensing (RS) satellite. The satellite will be launched in October 2012. This remote sensing satellite will be used for monitoring of natural phenomena, such as earthquakes, floods and heavy rains. The life of satellite will be five to six years. It will cost Venezuela USD 1.4 billion.
The first Singapore-made micro-satellite, X-Sat, started sending live images. First few images were unveiled to reporters at a press conference held at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The satellite was launched by India’s PSLV-C16 rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre launch pad in Sriharikota. The images – which were captured at a height of 800km – can help scientists monitor soil erosion and environmental changes. The images are made possible by a remote sensing camera that is fitted onto the X-Sat.
ISRO to expand research facilities
ISRO is enhancing its capabilities by setting up more than half a dozen critical facilities across its installations. They include a national database for emergency management and a multi-mission earth observation centre for satellites which will be set up at Hyderabad, besides an advanced research and development centre for spacecrafts to come up on 530 acres in the Science City at Chitradurga. In addition, a hypersonic wind tunnel and a plasma wind tunnel will be set up at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Trivandrum to study the re-entry and the behaviour of materials at high speed. A thrust chamber testing facility for high-thrust cryogenic engines also will be set up at Mahendragiri and a new mission control centre to look at multiple mission preparations simultaneously will come up at Sriharikota.
A comprehensive study of ISRO satellite images revealed 75 percent of Himalayan glaciers are on the retreat, with the average shrinkage being 3.75km during the 15 years under study. The grim findings come after raging controversy over claims in the 2007 IPCC report of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035, which were later retracted. The project, which studied 2,190 glaciers, was commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Department of Space, Government of India, to break myths about the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. However, the findings are sure to raise concern over the health of Asia’s ‘water towers’. The study used satellite images taken by Resourcesat-1 over a period of 15 years (1989-2004). Around 50 experts and 14 organisations were involved in the project which included field trips. G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kashmir University and Jawaharlal Nehru University participated in this study. This study included the basins of the Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra, as well as parts of China, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. www.economictimes.indiatimes.com
ISRO to launch French satellite in 2012
Continuing its programme of commercial launch of foreign satellites, ISRO has lined up launch of an image capturing satellite of France next year. The French satellite SPOT (Satellite Pour l’observation de la Terre) is a high-resolution, optical imaging, earth observation satellite system. Currently SPOT 5 is working in the space and is expected to be withdrawn by the end of 2013. India will launch the SPOT 6 satellite, which will provide continuous high definition images of earth. Due to the cost effectiveness of India-made PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles), many countries prefer India to launch their satellites. Recently ISRO successfully placed Singapore’s first experimental satellite in space. India has so far launched 27 foreign satellites and 60 India-made satellites.
Iran to launch two satellites soon
Iran will soon launch two satellites into space to take high resolution wall maps and aerial photos of locations around the globe. Iran will send Fajr (Dawn) satellite into space by September, while the Tolou (Sunrise) satellite will be launched in February 2012. The national Fajr satellite was developed and produced by Iranian aerospace experts in less than a year. It weighs 50 kilograms and is technically characterised by an orbit which could be promoted from 250 to 400 kilometres through a thruster or an engine. Tolou satellite weighs less than 80 kilograms and will be placed in elliptical orbit of 400 kilometres in radius. Tolou would have a lifespan of one and a half years and would capture images with a resolution of 50 meters and then transmit them to stations on earth.
UAE, Thailand sign MOU for space cooperation
The Emirates Institution for Advanced Science & Technology (EIAST) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) to further strengthen cooperation in the fields of space technology and application. Ahmed Obaid Al Mansoori, Director General of EIAST, and Dr Somchet Thinaphong, Chairman of GISTDA, signed the agreement. The two organisations will work together on various areas including remote sensing, space sciences, satellite communications, satellite navigation, satellite technology development and application and ground infrastructure development and its utilisation. As per the MOU, the cooperation will extend towards implementation of joint research and development activities; exchange of related data; participating in production, development and launch of satellites; training of scientific specialists; preparation of joint conferences; exchange of scientists and formation of technical collaborative projects.
Chinese satellite to predict earthquakes
As part of the proposed earthquake monitoring network, China will launch China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES) in 2014. It aims to detect electromagnetic anomalies in the atmosphere. The satellite has been in development since 2003 and is the first spaced-based component of the network. Its data will be correlated with data from ground-based monitoring systems. The network is eventually intended to provide advance warning of earthquakes, such as the one off the coast of Japan last month (11 March). Strong seismic activity often causes electromagnetic anomalies in the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, aiding the monitoring and prediction of earthquakes. China hopes to launch another two satellites by 2017 and begin predicting earthquakes from 2020. China has also been working with other countries, including Italy, Russia and the Ukraine, that have their own seismo-electromagnetic systems.
CAG seeks details of spectrum usage from ministries, agencies
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has sent reminder notices to several agencies like space organisations, including National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), besides Home Ministry to provide details about the spectrum used by them. The exercise by CAG assumes significance in the wake of recent controversy over distribution of spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices, causing huge losses to the exchequer. The CAG has also sought information about price at which the spectrum was allocated to all agencies. The CAG would look into the fees paid by the agencies, departments and companies who bought spectrum and also if they are using the alloted frequencies in its true capacity. All this information would help the CAG in assessing how efficiently the spectrum is being utilised.
The government may resort to another round of auction if spectrum is found not being used to the capacity. Auction of 3G and Broadband spectrum last year had fetched the government revenue of over Rs 1.06 lakh crore. The CAG had quantified a presumptive loss of over Rs 1.76 lakh crore due to sale of 2G spectrum in 2008 by former Telecom Minister A Raja and the matter is being investigated by various agencies.