October 20, 2011

In an effort to understand and study the complex sciences behind the monsoons, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Wednesday launched Megha Tropiques, a satellite designed and developed by scientists of India and France. The Rs90 crore satellite, weighing 865 kg was injected into an orbit 886 km away from the earth by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV),ISRO’s trusted workhorse.
Three nano satellites built by SRM University, Chennai, IIT Kanpur and LuxSpace of Luxembourg were also placed into the pre-determined orbits by the four-stage launch vehicle.
Dr K Radhakrishnan, chairman, ISRO, declared the launch a grand success. “The PSLV-C18 has beena grand success. We put all the four satellitesprecisely into thepre-determined orbits,” he announcedimmediately after the launch vehicle was blasted off from the Satish Dhavan Space Centre, Sriharikotta, India’s gateway to the space.

What is unique about the Megha Tropiques is that it will probe the hitherto unexplored aspects of the Monsoon and the tropical climate. “We hope we will be able to make noteworthy changes in the short term and medium range weather forecasts, especially the Monsoon,” Dr Shylesh Naik, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, told DNA from the Master Control Centre at SDSC. He said a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting would work on the data provided by the Megha Tropiques.
Dr Kasturi Rangan, member Planning Commission and former ISRO boss, who first initiated the proposal to have an exclusive satellite to study the monsoon and the tropical climate said Megha Tropique marked a new era of atmospheric research. “The results will benefit the entire Indian farming operations which is dependent on monsoon. Once we succeed in forecasting the precise characters of the monsoon, the farmers will be able to plan their cropping patterns accordingly,” said Dr Radhakrishnan.
Prof Roddam Narasimha, who will lead the Indian side in pursuing and analyzing the Megha Tropiques data promised the people “exciting sciences”. A senior ISRO scientist said the data collected from Megha Tropiques would be shared with scientists of NASA (USA) and Japanese Space Agency.
“The whole world has been chasing the monsoon for quite some time but it is getting more subtle and mysterious with every passing day,” he said.
Wednesday’s PSLV- C18 mission also put into a low earth orbit three nano satellites.The SRMSAT, a 10 kg nanosatellite built by the students of Chennai based SRM University, will monitor the green house gases, carbon di oxide and the water vapourcontent in theatmosphere. Jugnu, the second nanosatellite was built by the students of IIT Kanpur.VesselSat, a satellite weighing 28.7-kg, built by LuxSpace of Luxembourg was the other passenger in the PSLV. It will be used to locate ships in distress in the high seas.

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