Thursday, September 19, 2013

Australia Eager to Access ISRO Data from Satellite

RISAT-1 undergoing prelaunch tests in the clean room at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Photo Courtesy : ISRO

Australia has expressed interest in accessing top-grade space data from an Indian remote-sensing satellite that observes the ocean, besides willingness to be a part of a new regional-satellite navigation system that New Delhi is putting in place. In addition, Canberra wants data from Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) new microwave satellite (RISAT-1) to monitor precise ground-level changes, if any, as a result of a geotechnical engineering experiment being undertaken by Australian researchers.

If finalised, these projects would add substance to a memorandum of understanding that the two countries signed last October, during the visit of then Australian prime minister Julia Gillard. 

“We want access to high-resolution data from Oceansat-2, which can be downloaded directly by our centre at Alice Spring in central Australia. The data will be used to measure the depth of the water near the coast from the sky,” Andy Barnicoat, chief of the minerals and natural hazards division at Geoscience Australia, told Deccan Herald.

Barnicoat and his colleagues will be meeting ISRO scientists from earth-observation systems and international-relations divisions in Bangalore on Wednesday to discuss these proposals. The two countries already had one round of preliminary discussions on the Oceansat collaboration.

With a 59,700 kilometre-long coastline, Australia requires space-based technologies to measure the depth of coastal waters as traditional bathymetry using sounding systems would be too expensive and time consuming. The data would help scientists prepare for storm surges and improve conservation of its marine national parks.

Launched in September 2009, Oceansat-2 is Isro’s second remote-sensing satellite dedicated for the observation of the Indian Ocean after its predecessor Oceansat-1.

Barnicoat said Canberra was interested to be a part of Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS), which Isro is setting up at the moment. The first unit of the seven-satellite constellation was launched in May 28 and an Australian tracking station received signals from the satellite only about 10 days ago.

A regional-navigational system is required from India's perspective since access to the global positioning system cannot be relied on in hostile situations. The IRNSS would provide two services – an open one for civilian use and a restricted and encrypted service for military use.

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