ISRO’s earth observation satellite Cartosat-2C will be launched in May using a PSLV rocket. It will prove to be a shot-in-the arm for India’s military surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The launch will help place India in a select league of nations like US, Israel and China who have similar or better spy satellites that keep a close watch of happenings on Earth from space.
A couple of weeks ago, the Cartosat-2C — built at Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad — has been dispatched to ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) at Bengaluru after successful rounds of tests and evaluation. This brand new satellite follows the steps of Cartosat-2A which was India’s first dedicated military satellite, launched in 2007, that had the capability to monitor missile launches in its neighbourhood.
“Though little is known about this new satellite which has been built by scientists at SAC, it will be a follow-up mission in the Cartosat series and is expected to provide very high resolution pictures and videos captured from space,” an ISRO official said.
The 690-kilogram dual-use satellite is equipped with a Panchromatic Camera and a high-resolution multi-spectral instrument. This camera will have a resolution of 0.65 metres which is an improvement over the 0.8 metre camera sent on earlier missions. The new camera onboard the mission, can not only click high resolution pictures of disputed border and coastal areas, but can also record videos of sensitive targets from space, compress it, and relay it back to Earth.
ISRO officials describe this satellite “as one of the best eyes in space” that India has launched till date. The strength of the camera installed in this home-grown satellite is almost at par with the ones possessed by US and China. For instance, in 2014, the Chinese had set a remote sensing satellite “Yaogan 24” which had a similar camera of 0.65 metre resolution. The panchromatic imagers can not only be used for surveillance, but can also aid in disaster monitoring. It will also click images that can give an idea of temperatures of a particular location in comparison with the surrounding areas. Cartosat-2C is expected to be launched along with 21 other satellites in May using a PSLV rocket. It will be placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at a low-earth altitude of about 200-1,200 kms above the Earth’s surface.