ISRO Missions and Discoveries



From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Cartosat Series

Mains level : Cartosat and its applications

Advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3 has been launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota.


  • At 1,625 kg, Cartosat-3 is unusually heavy and more than double the mass of the previous eight in its class.
  • Many new technologies have been built in, such as a highly agile or flexible camera; high-speed data transmission, advanced computer system and new power electronics.
  • It is aimed to have the `sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites in the world.
  • It will be carried by PSLV-C47.
  • Thirteen small satellites of two U.S. customers will be the secondary payloads.

What’s so special about Cartosat-3?

  • A key feature of the Cartosats is that they help to detect changes in natural geographical or man-made features.
  • Their cameras can `look back and forth’ in an angle to generate continuous spot images.
  • One of Cartosat-3’s cameras offers a ground resolution of 25 cm – this means it can pick up an object of a minimum of that size from a height of around 500 km.
  • Currently, WorldView-3, a satellite owned by US company Maxar, has the best ground resolution of 31 cm.
  • Cartosat-3 ushers in the third generation of high-resolution `optical imaging’ satellites that enable precise cartographic or mapping activities, apart from their unstated military use.

Cartosat series

  • The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built and operated by the ISRO.
  • The Cartosat series is a part of the Indian Remote Sensing Program. They are used for Earth’s resource management defence services and monitoring.
  • So far, the ISRO has orbited eight Cartosats since May 2005.
  • Data from most of them, especially the last four Carto-2 series ones, launched in relatively quick succession in the last three years, are exclusively used by the armed forces.
  • The second one, Cartosat-2 of January 2007, breached the 1-metre threshold, which was an ambitious benchmark at that time.
  • The previous best view from a Cartosat was 65 cm, as put in the last three or four satellites in the Cartosat-2 series – 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F.
  • However, an existing policy allows only government and government authorised agencies to access ISRO’s high-resolution imageries below a resolution of 1 metre.


  • The imageries from Cartosat series satellites are useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, infrastructure planning, coastal land use and regulation.
  • It also finds applications in utility management such as monitoring road networks, water grids or distribution, creation of land use maps, among others.
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