The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will on Saturday launch earth observation satellite EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites on board launch vehicle PSLV-C49. The launch scheduled for 3 PM will be the first by ISRO after COVID-19 outbreak in India.
This is ISRO’s first mission since the launch of RISAT-2BR1, another earth observation satellite similar to EOS-01, on December 11 last year. After that, ISRO had also sent communication satellite GSAT-30 in space in January this year, but that was done using an Ariane rocket launched from French Guiana.
Thereafter, ISRO’s launch schedule was entirely derailed by the coronavirus epidemic. ISRO had planned more than 20 satellite launches in the fiscal year 2020-21, including high profile missions like Aditya L1, the first exploratory mission to Sun, and unmanned Gaganyaan, the precursor to India’s first manned space flight. Half of the planned launches were those of earth observation satellites like the one which were sent today.
EOS-01, like its cousins RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1, uses synthetic aperture radars to produce high-resolution images of the land. One big advantage that radar imaging has over optical instruments is that it is unaffected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight. It can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times.
Depending on the wavelength of the electromagnetic radiation used by the radar, different properties on land can be captured in the image. For example, a low wavelength signal can capture tree cover or vegetation, while a higher wavelength signal can penetrate even dense tree cover to look at the contours of land beneath.
EOS-01, and its sister RISATs, use X-band radars that operate at low wavelengths and are considered best for monitoring of urban landscape, and imaging of agricultural or forest land. According to ISRO, EOS-01 is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. The radar images are also considered to be immensely useful for military requirements.
The customer satellites are being launched under commercial agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), Department of Space, it said.
The customer satellites include one from Lithuania for technology demonstration, and four each from Luxembourg and USA for maritime applications and multi-mission remote sensing respectively.