ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO has been in news over these two years and for all the right reasons.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Space industry and challenges

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- Opportunities and challenges in outer space

The article analyses opportunities and challenges the outer space technology offers to us.

Emerging trends in space industry

  • The price for reaching low Earth orbit has declined by a factor of 20 in a decade.
  • It enhances human space travel possibilities by leveraging new commercial capabilities.
  • According to a Bank of America Report, the $350 billion space market today will touch $2.7 trillion by 2050.
  • Starlink, the constellation being constructed by SpaceX to provide global Internet access, plans more than 10,000 mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit. 
  •  In a decade, 80,000 such satellites could be in space compared to less than 3,000 at present.
  • Companies such as Planet, Spire Global and Iceye are using orbital vantage points to collect and analyse data to deliver fresh insights in weather forecasting, global logistics, crop harvesting and disaster response.
  • Space could prove attractive for high-tech manufacturing too.
  • In short, an exciting new platform is opening up for entrepreneurs.

3 Challenges

1) Governance of outer space

  • Framework for governance of outer space as it becomes democratised, commercialised and crowded is becoming obsolescent.
  • The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 enshrines the idea that space should be “the province of all mankind” and “not subject to national appropriation by claims of sovereignty”.
  • The Rescue Agreement, Space Liability Convention, and the Space Registration Convention expanded provisions of the Outer Space Treaty.
  • The Moon Treaty of 1979 was not ratified by major space-faring nations.
  • Space law does not have a dispute settlement mechanism, is silent on collisions and debris, and offers insufficient guidance on interference with others’ space assets.
  • These gaps heighten the potential for conflict in an era of congested orbits and breakneck technological change.

2) Acknowledging role of non-state entities

  • The legal framework related to outre space is state-centric, placing responsibility on states alone.
  • However, non-state entities are now in the fray for commercial space exploration and utilisation.
  • Some states are providing frameworks for resource recovery through private enterprises.
  • Some scholars and governments view this as against the principle of national non-appropriation, violating the spirit if not the letter of the existing space law.
  • The lack of alignment of domestic and international normative frameworks risks a damaging free-for-all competition for celestial resources involving actors outside the space framework.

3) The arms race in outer space

  • The space arms race is difficult to curb, especially since almost all space technologies have military applications.
  • For example, satellite constellations are commercial but governments could acquire their data to monitor military movements.
  • Investment in technologies that can disrupt or destroy space-based capabilities is under way.
  • Despite concerns about military activity in outer space for long, not much progress has been made in addressing them.
  • The UN General Assembly passes a resolution on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space since 1982.
  • The current geopolitical situation does not hold hope for addressing concerns of a space arms race.

Need for space legislation in India

  • India has invested enormous resources in its space programme through the Indian Space Research Organisation.
  • More importantly, our space assets are crucial for India’s development.
  • The proposed involvement of private players and the creation of an autonomous body IN-SPACe for permitting and regulating activities of the private sector are welcome efforts.
  • However, the space environment that India faces requires us to go beyond meeting technical milestones.
  • We need a space legislation enabling coherence across technical, legal, commercial, diplomatic and defence goals.

Consider the question “Outer space technology is expanding its horizon day by day. However, there are certain challenges the expansion of the space technology faces. What are these challenges and suggest ways to deal with such challenges.”

Conclusion

Our space vision also needs to address global governance, regulatory and arms control issues. As space opens up our space vision needs broadening too.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ASTROSAT Satellite

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ASTROSAT; Space missions of ISRO and NASA

Mains level : NA

ASTROSAT, India’s first multi-wavelength satellite observatory, has detected an extreme ultraviolet (UV) light from a galaxy which is 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.

Try out:

 

Consider the following statements regarding the AstroSat:

1)AstroSat is India’s multi-wavelength space telescope.
2)ASTROSAT mission is that enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite.
3)ASTROSAT observes the universe in the optical and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Which of the following above statements is true?

a.1 and 2
b.2 and 3
c.1 and 3
d.1, 2 and 3

AUDFs01

  • AstroSat has detected extreme-UV light from a galaxy, called AUDFs01, 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.
  • The galaxy is located in the Hubble Extreme Deep field, through AstroSat.
  • This is a very important clue to how the dark ages of the universe ended and there was light in the universe.

About ASTROSAT

  • AstroSat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space telescope. It was launched on a PSLV-XL on 28 September 2015.

It is the first dedicated Indian astronomy mission aimed at studying celestial sources in X-ray, optical and UV spectral bands simultaneously.

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Find some time to scroll through recent ISRO missions and discoveries.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Sarabhai Crater

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sarabhai Crater

Mains level : Chandrayaan 2 Mission

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has named a crater captured by Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter after Vikram Sarabhai.

Try this PYQ:

What do you understand by the term Aitken Basin? (CSP 2012)

(a) It is a desert in southern Chile which is known to be the only location on earth where no rainfall takes place

(b) It is an impact crater on the far side of the Moon

(c) It is a Pacific coast basin, which is known to house large amounts of oil and gas

(d) It is a deep hypersaline anoxic basin where no aquatic animals are found

Sarabhai Crater

  • “Sarabhai” Crater is named after Dr Vikram Sarabhai and around 250 to 300 kilometres east of this Crater is where the Apollo 17 and Luna 21 Missions had landed.
  • The crater captured in 3D images shows that the Crater has a depth of around 1.7 Kms taken from its raised rim and the slope of Crater walls is in between 25 to 35 degree.
  • These findings will help the Space Scientists to understand further the process of the lunar region filled with lava.

Who was Vikram Sarabhai?

  • Sarabhai was an Indian physicist and astronomer who initiated space research and helped develop nuclear power in India.
  • He is internationally regarded as the Father of the Indian Space Program.
  • Known as the cradle of space sciences in India, the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) was founded in 1947 by him. He was the founder of ISRO.
  • He started a project for the fabrication and launch of an Indian satellite.
  • As a result, the first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, was put in orbit in 1975 from a Russian cosmodrome.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Lithium Nucleosynthesis in Stars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Lithium, Nucleosynthesis, Big Bang

Mains level : Formation of stars

A forty-year-old puzzle regarding the production of lithium in stars has been solved by Indian researchers.

Try this question from CSP 2013:

Q.Consider the following phenomena:

  1. Size of the sun at dusk
  2. Colour of the sun at dawn
  3. Moon being visible at dawn
  4. Twinkle of stars in the sky
  5. Polestar being visible in the sky

Which of the above are optical illusions?

(a) 1, 2 and 3

(b) 3, 4 and 5

(c) 1, 2 and 4

(d) 2, 3 and 5

Lithium nucleosynthesis in Stars

  • Stars, as per known mechanisms of evolution, actually destroy lithium as they evolve into red giants.
  • Planets were known to have more lithium than their stars — as is the case with the Earth-Sun pair.
  • However, leading to a contradiction, some stars were found that were lithium-rich.
  • The new work by an Indian researcher shows that when stars grow beyond their Red Giant stage into what is known as the Red Clump stage, they produce lithium.
  • This is known as a Helium Flash and this is what enriches them with lithium.

Studying lithium-rich stars

  • About 40 years ago, a few large stars were spotted that were lithium-rich.
  • This was followed by further discoveries of lithium-rich stars, and that posed a puzzle — if stars do not produce lithium, how do some stars develop to become lithium-rich.
  • The planet engulfment theory was quite popular. For example, Earth-like planets may increase the star’s lithium content when they plunge into [their] star’s atmosphere when the latter become Red Giants.

Findings of the Indian research

  • Indian researchers have been working on this puzzle for nearly 20 years to devise a method of measuring lithium content using low-resolution spectra in a large number of stars.
  • The study demonstrated that lithium abundance enhancement among low mass giant stars is common.
  • Until now, it was believed that only about 1% of giants are lithium-rich.
  • Secondly, the team has shown that as the star evolves beyond the Red Giant stage, and before it reaches the Red Clump stage, there is a helium flash which produces an abundance of lithium.

Back2Basics: Lithium

  • Lithium is a chemical element with the symbol Li and atomic number 3. It is a soft, silvery-white alkali metal. Under standard conditions, it is the lightest metal and the lightest solid element.
  • S light element commonly used today in communication device technology, it has an interesting story.
  • It was first produced in the Big Bang, around 13.7 billion years ago when the universe came into being, along with other elements.
  • While the abundance of other elements grew millions of times, the present abundance of lithium in the universe is only four times the original [Big Bang] value. It is actually destroyed in the stars.
  • The Sun, for instance, has about a factor of 100 lower amount of lithium than the Earth.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Phobos: The closest and biggest moon of Mars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MOM, Phobos

Mains level : Quest for Mars and its possibility to host life

The Mars Colour Camera (MCC) onboard ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has captured the image of Phobos, the closest and biggest moon of Mars.

Try this question from CSP 2017:

Q.Which region of Mars has a densely packed river deposit indicating this planet had water 3.5 billion years ago?

(a) Aeolis Dorsa (b) Tharsis (c) Olympus Mons (d) Hellas

About Phobos

  • Phobos is the innermost and larger of the two natural satellites of Mars, the other being Deimos.
  • Both moons were discovered in 1877 by American astronomer Asaph Hall.
  • Phobos is a small, irregularly shaped object with a mean radius of 11 km and is seven times as massive as the outer moon, Deimos.
  • Phobos is largely believed to be made up of carbonaceous chondrites.
  • The violent phase that Phobos has encountered is seen in the large section gouged out from a past collision (Stickney crater) and bouncing ejecta.

Back2Basics: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM)

  • The MOM also called Mangalyaan is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • It aims at studying the Martian surface and mineral composition as well as scans its atmosphere for methane (an indicator of life on Mars).
  • It is India’s first interplanetary mission and it made it the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency.
  • It made India the first Asian nation to reach Martian orbit and the first nation in the world to do so on its maiden attempt.
  • It was initially meant to last six months, but subsequently, ISRO had said it had enough fuel for it to last “many years.”

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

IN-SPACe: Future forerunner for India’s space economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IN-SPACE, ANTRIX, NSIl

Mains level : ISRO and India's space economy

  • The government approved the creation of Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe) to ensure greater private participation in India’s space activities.
  • This decision is described as historic being part of an important set of reforms to open up the space sector and make space-based applications and services more widely accessible to everyone.

Practice question for mains:

Q. What is IN-SPACe? Discuss how it would benefit ISRO and contribute to India’s space economy.

What is IN-SPACe?

  • IN-SPACe is supposed to be a facilitator, and also a regulator.
  • It will act as an interface between ISRO and private parties and assess how best to utilise India’s space resources and increase space-based activities.
  • IN-SPACe is the second space organisation created by the government in the last two years.
  • In the 2019 Budget, the government had announced the setting up of a New Space India Limited (NSIL), a public sector company that would serve as a marketing arm of ISRO.

Confusion over NSIL and ANTRIX

  • NSIL’s main purpose is to market the technologies developed by ISRO and bring it more clients that need space-based services.
  • That role, incidentally, was already being performed by Antrix Corporation, another PSU working under the Department of Space, and which still exists.
  • It is still not very clear why there was a need for another organisation with overlapping function.
  • The government now had clarified the role of NSIL that it would have a demand-driven approach rather than the current supply-driven strategy.
  • Essentially, what that means is that instead of just marketing what ISRO has to offer, NSIL would listen to the needs of the clients and ask ISRO to fulfil those.

Then, why was IN-SPACe needed?

(1) ISRO and its limited resources

  • It is not that there is no private industry involvement in India’s space sector.
  • In fact, a large part of the manufacturing and fabrication of rockets and satellites now happens in the private sector. There is increasing participation of research institutions as well.
  • Indian industry, however, is unable to compete, because till now its role has been mainly that of suppliers of components and sub-systems.
  • Indian industries do not have the resources or the technology to undertake independent space projects of the kind that US companies such as SpaceX have been doing or provide space-based services.

(2) India and the global space economy

  • Indian industry had a barely three per cent share in a rapidly growing global space economy which was already worth at least $360 billion.
  • Only two per cent of this market was for rocket and satellite launch services, which require fairly large infrastructure and heavy investment.
  • The remaining 95 per cent related to satellite-based services, and ground-based systems.

(3) Catering to domestic demands

  • The demand for space-based applications and services is growing even within India, and ISRO is unable to cater to this.
  • The need for satellite data, imageries and space technology now cuts across sectors, from weather to agriculture to transport to urban development and more.
  • If ISRO is to provide everything, it would have to be expanded 10 times the current level to meet all the demand that is arising.

(4) Promoting other private players

  • Right now, all launches from India happen on ISRO rockets, the different versions of PSLV and GSLV.
  • There were a few companies that were in the process of developing their own launch vehicles, the rockets like ISRO’s PSLV that carry the satellites and other payloads into space.
  • Now ISRO could provide all its facilities to private players whose projects had been approved by IN-SPACe.

How ISRO gains from all these?

  • There are two main reasons why enhanced private involvement in the space sector seems important.
  • One is commercial, and the other strategic. And ISRO seems unable to satisfy this need on its own.
  • Of course, there is a need for greater dissemination of space technologies, better utilization of space resources, and increased requirement of space-based services.
  • The private industry will also free up ISRO to concentrate on science, research and development, interplanetary exploration and strategic launches.
  • Right now too much of ISRO’s resources are consumed by routine activities that delay its more strategic objectives.

A win-win situation for all

  • ISRO, like NASA, is essentially a scientific organisation whose main objective is the exploration of space and carrying out scientific missions.
  • There are a number of ambitious space missions lined up in the coming years, including a mission to observe the Sun, a mission to the Moon, a human spaceflight, and then, possibly, a human landing on the Moon.
  • And it is not that private players will wean away from the revenues that ISRO gets through commercial launches.
  • The space-based economy is expected to “explode” in the next few years, even in India, and there would be more than enough for all.
  • In addition, ISRO can earn some money by making its facilities and data available to private players.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IN-SPACE, ANTRIX

Mains level : ISRO and the scope for its commercial operations

The Union Cabinet has approved the creation of the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Centre (IN-SPACe) to provide a level playing field for private companies to use Indian space infrastructure.

Note the key differences between IN-SPACe, ANTRIX and NSIL. We can expect a prelims question with shuffled objectives of these organisations.

IN-SPACe

  • The creation of IN-SPACe is part of reforms aimed at giving a boost to private sector participation in the entire range of space activities.
  • The IN-SPACe is expected to hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities through encouraging policies and a friendly regulatory environment.
  • It would endeavour to reorient space activities from a ‘supply-driven’ model to a ‘demand-driven’ one, thereby ensuring optimum utilization of the nation’s space assets.

Why need IN-SPACe?

  • India is among a handful of countries with advanced capabilities in the space sector.
  • Space sector can play a major catalytic role in the technological advancement and expansion of our Industrial base.
  • The proposed reforms will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities.

Back2Basics: New Space India Limited (NSIL)

  • It functions under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS).
  • It aims to commercially exploit the research and development work of ISRO Centres and constituent units of DOS.
  • The NSIL would enable Indian Industries to scale up high-technology manufacturing and production base for meeting the growing needs of the Indian space programme.
  • It would further spur the growth of Indian Industries in the space sector.

ANTRIX

  • Antrix Corporation Limited (ACL), Bengaluru is a wholly-owned Government of India Company under the administrative control of the Department of Space.
  • It is as a marketing arm of ISRO for promotion and commercial exploitation of space products, technical consultancy services and transfer of technologies developed by ISRO.
  • Antrix is engaged in providing Space products and services to international customers worldwide.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Detection of Fluorine in hot Extreme Helium (EHe) Stars

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Extreme Helium (EHe) Stars

Mains level : NA

A study by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) has detected the presence of singly ionized fluorine for the first time in the atmospheres of hot Extreme Helium Stars.

UPSC may ask a simple statement-based question considering the following points:

If there is the presence of hydrogen, their abundance in universe and how it is different from neutron stars etc.

What are EHe stars?

  • An extreme helium star or EHe is a low-mass supergiant that is almost devoid of hydrogen, the most common chemical element of the universe.
  • There are 21 of them detected so far in our galaxy.
  • The origin and evolution of these Hydrogen deficient objects have been shrouded in mystery.
  • Their severe chemical peculiarities challenge the theory of well-accepted stellar evolution as the observed chemical composition of these stars do not match with that predicted for low mass evolved stars.

Why is the study significant?

  • Clues to the evolution of extreme helium stars require accurate determinations of their chemical composition, and the peculiarities, if any, become very important.
  • Fluorine plays a very crucial role in this regard to determine the actual evolutionary sequence of these hydrogen deficient objects.
  • The scientists explored the relationship of hot EHes with the cooler EHes, based on their fluorine abundance and spotted it in the former, thus establishing an evolutionary connection across a wide range of effective temperature.
  • This makes a strong case that the main form of these objects involves a merger of a carbon-oxygen (CO) and a Helium (He) white dwarf.
  • The detection of enhanced fluorine abundances in the atmospheres of hot EHes solves a decade-old mystery about their formation.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Earth’s Magnetosphere and its dynamics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Earths magnetosphere

Mains level : Earths magnetosphere and its significance for space missions

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism (IIG) have developed a generalized one-dimensional fluid simulation code capable of studying a wide spectrum of coherent electric field structures of earth’s magnetosphere which can be useful in the planning of future space missions.

The newscard talks of not so new phenomenon but a basic terminology of space sciences. Kindly make a note of what the Magnotesphere is, how it is formed, role of solar winds, Geodynamo etc.

Earth’s Magnetosphere

  • The magnetosphere is the region of space surrounding Earth where the dominant magnetic field is the magnetic field of Earth, rather than the magnetic field of interplanetary space.
  • It is generated by the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field.

Features of the Earth’s magnetosphere

1) Bow shock,

2) Magnetosheath,

3) Magnetopause,

4) Northern tail lobe,

5) Southern tail lobe,

6) Plasmasphere,

7) Solar wind.

How is it formed?

  • Sun is the major source of plasma deposition in space around the Earth. Sun forces some of its plasma towards the earth in the form of the solar wind.
  • The speed of this wind varies between 300 to 1500 km/s, which carries with it solar magnetic field, called as Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF).
  • The magnetic field is generated by electric currents due to the motion of convection currents of a mixture of molten iron and nickel in the Earth’s outer core.
  • These convection currents are caused by heat escaping from the core, a natural process called a geodynamo.

Why study the magnetosphere?

  • The Earth’s magnetosphere is a vast region which has a finite number of satellites hurtling through this realm.
  • The morphology of the plasma processes around the satellite can be understood quite well.
  • However, when they leave the observational domain of one satellite to enter into another, a vast blind arena is created.
  • How the morphology of these processes changes over space and time can be ideally deciphered only through computer simulations.

Outcome of the study

  • Almost 99% of matter in the universe is in the form of plasma, Earth’s magnetosphere, too, contains this material and the plasma.
  • They have the ability to hamper the working of a number of satellites that have been placed in orbit in the magnetospheric region.

Significance

  • Apart from the well being of these expensive satellites, the academic understanding of this region is quite essential to comprehend the cosmos in its entirety.
  • The study will help advance the knowledge of plasma waves, instabilities, and coherent effects associated with wave-particle interactions that are useful in planning of future space missions.
  • It can also lead to precisely controlled fusion laboratory experiments for ever-expanding energy needs of humanity.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Super-luminous Supernova SN 2010kd

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Supernovae

Mains level : Not Much

Indian researchers have found that SN 2010kd, a super-luminous supernova stands out with the amount of mass as well as Nickel ejected during explosion.

Space science-related terms these days are often focused on Gravitational waves, Black holes etc. But basic terminologies are very important and need to be taken care of. For example, a layman may hardly find any difference between Novae-Supernovae, Neutron star, Nebula etc. UPSC often tries to bust you with such basic differences.

What are Supernovae?

  • Supernovae are kind of energetic explosions were the core of massive stars (a few times to that of the mass of our Sun) goes to a catastrophic phase of explosion liberating huge amounts of energy and mass.
  • These events are visible through very far away distances much beyond our own solar system.
  • Super-luminous supernovae are a special type of stellar explosions having energy output 10 or more times higher than that of standard supernovae.

What is so distinct about SN 2010kd?

  • The mass ejection from SN 2010kd is metallic and is much more than seen in case of normal core-collapse supernovae.
  • The scientists found that SN 2010kd exploded with a larger velocity but decayed slower than other similar supernovae.
  • The observations show that parameters like rotation and metallicity play a crucial role in stellar explosions.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] What is Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN)

Mains level : BBN and its significance in the formation of our solar system

Indian researchers have discovered hundreds of Li-rich giant stars produced during BBN indicating that Li is being produced in the stars and accounts for its abundance in the interstellar medium.

Most of the space based theories and missions are focussed on the formation of our solar system. BBN is the most basic auxillary among them.

What is Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN)?

  • BBN is the production of nuclei other than those of the lightest isotope of hydrogen during the early phases of the Universe.
  • Primordial nucleosynthesis is believed by most cosmologists to have taken place in the interval from roughly 10 seconds to 20 minutes after the Big Bang.
  • It is calculated to be responsible for the formation of most of the universe’s helium in various isotopic forms.
  • Essentially all of the elements that are heavier than lithium were created much later, by stellar nucleosynthesis in evolving and exploding stars.

Lithium in space

  • Lithium (Li), is one of the three primordial elements, apart from Hydrogen and Helium (He), produced in the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN).
  • However, the present measurement of Li in the interstellar medium and very young stars is about 4 times more than the primordial value.
  • Thus, identifying sources of Li enrichment in our Galaxy has been a great interest to researchers to validate BBN as well as a stellar mixing process.
  • In general, stars are considered as Li sinks. This means that the original Li, with which stars are born, only gets depleted over stars’ life-time as Li burns at relatively very low temperatures.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] What are Blazars?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Blazars

Mains level : Black Holes, Blazars

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bangalore have conducted the first systematic study on the gamma-ray flux variability nature on different types of Blazars.

Strange terminologies from space-based studies are very important from prelims point of view.  We can expect a statement based question seeking to identify the term which is being referred to in the paragraph.

What are Blazars?

  • At the center of most galaxies, there’s a massive black hole that can have mass of millions or even billions of Suns that accrete gas, dust, and stellar debris around it.
  • As these material falls towards the black hole, their gravitational energy gets converted to light forming active galactic nuclei (AGN).
  • A minority of AGN (~15%) emit collimated charged particles called jets travelling at speeds close to the speed of light.
  • Blazars are AGN whose jets are aligned with the observer’s line of sight.
  • Some blazars are thought to host binary black holes in them and could be potential targets for future gravitational-wave searches.

Studying blazars

  • Blazars are the most luminous and energetic objects in the known universe were found to be emitters of gamma-rays in the 1990s.
  • It is only with the capability of Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope (launched in 2008) to scan the entire sky once in three hours one is able to probe the flux variability characteristics of blazars on a range of time scales.
  • Gamma-ray band is one of the bands of the electromagnetic spectrum on which there is limited knowledge on the flux variability of blazars.
  • Major problem while studying them is to localize the site for the production of gamma-rays.

Significance

  • The study of blazars could provide clues to the processes happening close to the black hole, not visible through direct imaging.
  • Exploring blazars will provide key inputs to constrain the high energy production site as well as the high energy emission processes.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Aditya L1 Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Parker Probe. Aditya L1 Mission, Lagranges points

Mains level : Read the attached story

 

NASA’s Parker Solar Probe launched on August 12, 2018 has completed its fourth close approach — called perihelion very recently, whizzing past at about 3.93 lakh km/h, at a distance of only 18.6 million km from the Sun’s surface.

Aditya L1: Exciting ahead

  • The ISRO is preparing to send its first scientific expedition to study the Sun.
  • Named Aditya-L1, the mission, expected to be launched early next year, will observe the Sun from a close distance, and try to obtain information about its atmosphere and magnetic field.
  • ISRO categorizes Aditya L1 as a 400 kg-class satellite that will be launched using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in XL configuration.
  • The space-based observatory will have seven payloads (instruments) on board to study the Sun’s corona, solar emissions, solar winds and flares, and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), and will carry out round-the-clock imaging of the Sun.
  • Aditya L1 will be ISRO’s second space-based astronomy mission after AstroSat, which was launched in September 2015.

What is L1?

  • L1 refers to Lagrangian/Lagrange Point 1, one of five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
  • Lagrange Points, named after Italian-French mathematician Josephy-Louis Lagrange, are positions in space where the gravitational forces of a two-body system (like the Sun and the Earth) produce enhanced regions of attraction and repulsion.
  • These can be used by spacecraft to reduce fuel consumption needed to remain in position.
  • The L1 point is home to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO), an international collaboration project of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The L1 point is about 1.5 million km from Earth, or about one-hundredth of the way to the Sun.

But why is studying the Sun important?

  • Every planet, including Earth and the exoplanets beyond the Solar System, evolves — and this evolution is governed by its parent star.
  • The solar weather and environment, which is determined by the processes taking place inside and around the sun, affects the weather of the entire system.
  • Variations in this weather can change the orbits of satellites or shorten their lives, interfere with or damage onboard electronics, and cause power blackouts and other disturbances on Earth.
  • Knowledge of solar events is key to understanding space weather.
  • To learn about and track Earth-directed storms, and to predict their impact, continuous solar observations are needed.
  • Every storm that emerges from the Sun and heads towards Earth passes through L1, and a satellite placed in the halo orbit around L1 of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/eclipses.

Why are solar missions challenging?

  • What makes a solar mission challenging is the distance of the Sun from Earth (about 149 million km on average, compared to the only 3.84 lakh km to the Moon).
  • More importantly the super hot temperatures and radiations in the solar atmosphere make it difficult to study.
  • NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has already gone far closer — but it will be looking away from the Sun.
  • The earlier Helios 2 solar probe, a joint venture between NASA and space agency of erstwhile West Germany, went within 43 million km of the Sun’s surface in 1976.

Problem of Heat

  • The Parker Solar Probe’s January 29 flyby was the closest the spacecraft has gone to the Sun in its planned seven-year journey so far.
  • Computer modelling estimates show that the temperature on the Sun-facing side of the probe’s heat shield, the Thermal Protection System, reached 612 degrees Celsius, even as the spacecraft and instruments behind the shield remained at about 30°C, NASA said.
  • During the spacecraft’s three closest perihelia in 2024-25, the TPS will see temperatures around 1370°C.

Hurdles for Aditya L1

  • It will stay much farther away, and the heat is not expected to be a major concern for the instruments on board. But there are other challenges.
  • Many of the instruments and their components for this mission are being manufactured for the first time in the country, presenting as much of a challenge as an opportunity for India’s scientific, engineering, and space communities.
  • One such component is the highly polished mirrors which would be mounted on the space-based telescope.
  • Due to the risks involved, payloads in earlier ISRO missions have largely remained stationary in space; however, Aditya L1 will have some moving components, scientists said.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

NavIC navigation system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NAVIC, IRNSS

Mains level : Utility of NAVIC

 

Qualcomm Technologies has released chipsets, supporting India’s own GPS system ‘Navigation with Indian Constellation’ (NavIC).

New androids to be equipped with NavIC

  • The Qualcomm chipsets now supports up to 7 satellite constellations at the same time, including the use of all of NavIC’s operating satellites.
  • These enhancements will enable select mobile, automotive and IoT platforms to better serve key industries and technology ecosystems in the region.
  • It will help improve user experience for location-based applications especially in dense urban environments where geolocation accuracy tends to degrade, said the company earlier.

About NavIC

  • The name NavIC was given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after successful launch of the seventh navigation satellite, in April, 2016.
  • To date, ISRO has built a total of nine satellites in the IRNSS series, of which eight are currently in orbit.
  • The constellation is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its primary service area.
  • It is designed to provide two types of services – Standard Positioning Service (SPS), which is provided to all users and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorised users.
  • The system is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.

For more readings about NAVIC, navigate to the page:

NAVIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation)

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed of the day] Lady Gaganaut

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Skybot F-850: Robot sent by Russia to dock with the International Space Station.

Mains level : Paper 3-Vyommitra, India's human spaceflight in 2022.

Context

The first gaganaut-Vyomamitra- to head for space in an Indian craft will not be human, but humanoid.

What Vyomamitra would do on spaceflight?

  • Test the technological environment: Vyomamitra unveiled by ISRO will fly two missions to test the technological environment which human gaganauts will inhabit on India’s first demonstration of human spaceflight in 2022.
    • She will test the systems and instruments that they would use.
    • Vyomamitra cannot test the cabin ecosystem,  as she would not be able to breathe the air.
    • Other functions: Vyomamitra is perfectly capable of issuing commands, activating switches and, obviously, communicating with earth.
  • Give company to human travellers: Her prototype has already chatted with people at the Isro event where she was introduced to the public, and future iterations will be able to give company to human travellers at the loneliest frontier.

A shift from sending animals to humanoids

  • Performing roles previously performed by animals: Vyomamitra will be executing the pioneering role which has traditionally been given to animals – testing systems for survivability.
    • Fruit flies and monkeys were the first beings to lift off, riding V2 rockets with devices monitoring their vital signs.
  • Why using humanoid is more useful: Using a humanoid robot is more useful because it can be used to replicate the behavioural and operational responses of a human.
    • Indeed, robots need not remain pioneers testing survivability, or assistants to the human crew, but are expected to crew missions that are too prolonged or too dangerous for a human pilot.

Opportunities and the future of AI-powered humanoid

  • Russian robot in space: As India prepared for human flight, in August 2019, the Russian space agency Roscosmos sent up the anthropomorphic robot Skybot F-850 to dock with the International Space Station.
    • The mission has been halted because of technical issues.
    • Goals beyond survivability testing: If the nation which pioneered human spaceflight with Yuri Gagarin’s mission in 1961 is sending humanoid robots into space, survivability testing is not the only legitimate goal of missions powered by artificial intelligence and robotics.
  • Opportunity to develop new technologies: Humanoid in space also provide opportunities to test and develop these technologies under circumstances that do not prevail on earth.
    • The inputs, goals and skills learned are different and while AI on earth specifically focuses on creating systems which do not think like humans,
  • Human-like AI system need of industry: The space industry would value systems that are human-like, to stand in for crew.

Conclusion

Vyomamitra represents the very first iteration of AI in space, and later generations could prove to be as essential for spaceflight as cryogenic engines.

 

 

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Vyom Mitra: ISRO’s half-humanoid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Vyoma Mitra

Mains level : Various functions of Vyoma Mitra in ISRO's unmanned missions

 

ISRO unveiled its first ‘woman’ astronaut during the event ‘Human Spaceflight and Exploration’.

Vyom Mitra

  • The AI-based robotic system is being developed at a robotics lab at the VSSC in Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Vyom Mitra will be used for an unmanned flight of ISRO’s GSLV III rocket in December 2020, which, along with a second unmanned flight in July 2021.
  • This will serve as the test of ISRO’s preparedness for its maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan, being targeted for 2022 to mark 75 years of India’s independence.

Functions of the humanoid

  • Vyommitra, equipped with a head, two arms and a torso, is built to mimic crew activity inside the crew module of Gaganyaan.
  • Attaining launch and orbital postures, responding to the environment, generating warnings, replacing carbon dioxide canisters, operating switches, monitoring of the crew module, receiving voice commands, responding via speech (bilingual) are among its functions listed.
  • It will have a human-like face, with lips synchronised for movement to mimic speech.
  • Once it is fully developed, Vyommitra will be able to use equipment on board the spacecraft’s crew module, like safety mechanisms and switches, as well as receive and act on commands sent from ground stations.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-30 successfully launched

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GSAT-30 and its applications

Mains level : Not Much

India’s first satellite of 2020, the GSAT-30 was successfully launched. The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-251 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana.

GSAT-30 

  • GSAT-30 derives  its  heritage  from ISRO’s  earlier INSAT/GSAT  satellite  series  and  will  replace  INSAT-4A  in 
  • In the  days  ahead,  orbit-raising  manoeuvres  will  be  performed  to  place  the satellite  in  Geostationary  Orbit  (36,000  km  above  the  equator)  by  using  its  onboard  propulsion
  • During the  final  stages  of  its  orbit  raising  operations,  the  two  solar  arrays  and  the antenna  reflectors  of  GSAT-30  will  be
  • Following this,  the satellite will be  put in  its final orbital .     The satellite will  be  operational  after  the successful  completion  of  all in-orbit  tests.

Utility of the satellite

  • GSAT-30 will provide  DTH  Television  Services, connectivity to  VSATs for  ATM,  Stock-exchange,  Television unlinking and Teleport  Services,  Digital  Satellite  News  Gathering  (DSNG)  and e-governance applications.
  • The satellite  will  also  be  used  for  bulk  data  transfer  for  a  host  of an emerging  telecommunication

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS)

Mains level : Significance of IDRSS

India plans to ring in its own era of space-to-space tracking and communication of its space assets this year by putting up a new satellite series called the Indian Data Relay Satellite System.

Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS)

  • The IDRSS is planned to track and be constantly in touch with Indian satellites, in particular those in low-earth orbits which have limited coverage of earth.
  • In the coming years, it will be vital to ISRO whose roadmap is dotted with advanced LEO missions such as space docking, space station, as well as distant expeditions to moon, Mars and Venus.
  • It will also be useful in monitoring launches.
  • The first beneficiary would be the prospective crew members of the Gaganyaan mission of 2022 who can be fully and continuously in touch with mission control throughout their travel.
  • IDRSS satellites of the 2,000 kg class would be launched on the GSLV launcher to geostationary orbits around 36,000 km away.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Sun’s Corona

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sun's Corona

Mains level : Space Weather

Solar physicists from Centre for Excellence in Space Sciences (CESSI), IISER Kolkata, have succeeded in predicting the shape of Sun’s corona at the time of the recent annular eclipse.

What is Corona?

  • The corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere. It is the aura of plasma that surrounds the Sun and other stars.
  • The Sun’s corona extends millions of kilometres into outer space and is most easily seen during a total solar eclipse, but it is also observable with a coronagraph.
  • Spectroscopy measurements indicate strong ionization in the corona and a plasma temperature in excess of 1000000 Kelvin much hotter than the surface of the Sun.

Predicting in advance

  • The Predictive Solar Surface Flux Transport model developed by the CESSI team can predict the shape of the corona well in advance.
  • The researchers can predict the large-scale structure of the Sun’s corona up to two months in advance.
  • This model gives advance knowledge and a large window of preparedness for space weather driven by coronal magnetic fields.

Why Space weather matters?

  • The dynamic events on the Sun can affect Earth’s outer atmosphere and our technologies, leading to disruption in communication and navigation networks (GPS).
  • These are more frequent during solar maxima and pose a threat to space reliant technology and astronauts.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

RISAT-2BR1

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RISAT-2BR1

Mains level : Uses and applications of RISAT-2BR1


ISRO’s rocket PSLV-C48 blasted off from the spaceport carrying India’s radar imaging earth observation satellite RISAT-2BR1 and nine foreign satellites.

This launch has marked a significant milestone for ISRO as it is the 50th flight of the PSLV and also the 75th vehicle mission from Sriharikota.

RISAT-2BR1

  • RISAT-2BR1 is an Indian radar reconnaissance satellite that is part of India’s RISAT programme and the fourth satellite in the series.
  • The satellite has resolution of 0.35 meters by which two objects separated by distance of 0.35 metres can be distinctly identified.
  • The mission duration is planned to be 5 years.
  • It is meant for applications in various fields like agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
  • The other 9 satellites are being launched under a commercial arrangement with the NewSpace India Ltd.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s Second Spaceport at Kulasekarapattinam (TN)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PSLV, SSLV

Mains level : Launchpads and their technical pre-requisites


The ISRO has commenced land acquisition for its second launchpad in Kulasekarapattinam, a town in the Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district of Tamil Nadu.

ISRO’s spaceport

  • ISRO’s first and only spaceport, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), is located in Sriharikota, about 100 km north of Chennai, in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
  • The organisation launches its PSLV and GSLV rockets from here.
  • The SDSC, setup in 1971, currently has two active launchpads.
  • Its first launchpad was decommissioned once the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle programme ended in 1994.
  • The first of the two active pads mostly services the PSLV and the second, the GSLV, and which ISRO is currently modifying to accommodate crewed vehicle missions as part of its upcoming human spaceflight project, Gaganyaan.
  • The second spaceport at Kulasekarapattinam is expected to provide an important advantage to ISRO’s upcoming Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), a smaller counterpart of the PSLV.

Why need another launchpad?

  • The PSLV is designed to launch satellites into pole-to-pole, or polar, orbits around Earth.
  • However, it can’t enter into such an orbit straightaway after launch because its trajectory needs to avoid flying over Sri Lanka, protecting its popular centres from any debris from the rocket.
  • So once the rocket lifts off from Sriharikota, it flies further east to avoid Sri Lanka and then steers itself back towards the South Pole.
  • This manoeuvre requires more fuel, and for a smaller rocket like the SSLV, the addition could eat into its already limited payload capacity and reduce the rocket’s value for Antrix, ISRO’s commercial operator.
  • By setting up a spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam the SSLV will lift off over the Lakshadweep Sea and won’t have to swerve around Sri Lanka as it climbs to higher altitudes.

Why Thoothukudi?

  • Proximity to the seashore makes Thoothukudi ideal for “straight southward” launches. From Sriharikota, such southward bound launches are not possible as the rockets have to fly around Sri Lanka.
  • Nearness to the equator: Like the Sriharikota spaceport in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Thoothukudi was selected as a spaceport due to its nearness to the equator. A rocket launch site should be on the east coast and near the equator.
  • Logistical ease: ISRO has its Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) at Mahendragiri in Tirunelveli district, where it assembles the second and fourth stage engines for the PSLV. Instead of transporting the second and fourth stages to Sriharikota from Mahendragiri, it would be easier to shift them to the launch pad if it is built in Kulasekarapattinam, which is around 100 km away.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Cartosat-3

Note4Students

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.

Cartosat-3

  • 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.

Uses

  • 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.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

NAVIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NAVIC

Mains level : Utility of NAVIC


  • The ISRO and its older commercial arm Antrix Corporation Ltd. are poised to commercialise India’s regional navigation satellite system, NavIC.
  • Antrix recently floated two separate tenders to identify industries that can develop dedicated NavIC-based hardware and systems.

NavIC (Navigation in Indian Constellation)

  • It is the Indian system of seven satellites that is aimed at telling the business and individual users where they are, or how their products and services are moving.
  • The indigenous positioning or location-based service (LBS) works just like the established and popular U.S. Global Positioning System or GPS but within a 1,500-km radius over the sub-continent.
  • It covers India and a region extending 1,500 km around it, with plans for further extension.
  • NAVIC will provide two levels of service, the standard positioning service“, which will be open for civilian use, and a “restricted service (an encrypted one) for authorised users (including the military).
  • NAVIC is planned to become available for civilian use in the first half of 2020

Early users

  • The early set of commercial NavIC users would be potentially transporters of resources such as mined ore, coal and sand in various States.
  • Several transporters currently use GPS-based systems.

Positive developments

  • Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a leading producer of semiconductor chips, had developed and tested NavIC-friendly chipsets across its user bases and that it would add NavIC to them.
  • Apart from GPS, its chips can work with the global navigation satellite systems of Europe (Galileo), Russia (GLONASS) and China (Beidou.)
  • ISRO said this support would be available for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) from November 2019.
  • It expects the indigenous system to ‘enhance’ the use of NavIC on mobile, automotive and Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

3GPP project

  • The important positive for NavIC was the certification of the Indian system by the 3GPP (The 3rd Generation Partnership Project), a global body for coordinating mobile telephony standards.
  • The specifications will be available in March 2020 and the Telecommunications Standards Development Society, India (TSDSI) has said it would adopt them as a national standard.
  • The implication is that 4G and 5G devices with NavIC capability can use assisted-NavIC solution in place of, or in addition to, other constellations.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GEMINI system to aid fishermen

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GEMINI System

Mains level : Tropical Cyclones in India and thier aftermath


  • To avoid communication blackouts that led to 20 fishermen going missing in the aftermath of Cyclone Okchi in 2017, a slew of government departments, research agencies and private companies have developed GEMINI.

GEMINI

  • GEMINI is a portable receiver linked to ISRO-satellites, that is “fail-proof” and warn fishermen of danger.
  • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), a Hyderabad institute collaborated with Accord, a private company, to develop a box-shaped receiver.
  • It has an antenna and in-built battery that can last three to four days, according to a brochure describing the device.
  • GEMINI works on GAGAN developed by ISRO and the Airports Authority of India and is an India-made global positioning system and relies on the positioning system by ISRO’s GSAT satellites.

Why need GEMINI?

  • The satellite-based communication is the only suitable solution for the dissemination of such emergency information.
  • And affordable satellite based communication system should be made part of the dissemination chain to deal with cyclones, high waves and tsunamis.

App interface

  • When GEMINI is connected to an app, it also lets fishermen know the probability of fish-catch in the surrounding seas.
  • Even now it provides services such as storm alerts and advisories of potential fish-catch however it’s dependent on the mobile services provided.

Utility of the device

  • With this device, fishermen outside the signal range of their phone companies can also access warnings and alerts.
  • Mobile phone frequencies cannot be accessed 10-12 km beyond the coast and with GEMINI this range can increase to 300 nautical miles.

Limitations

  • The device allows only one-way communication — it can’t be used by fishermen to make calls, for instance.
  • At ₹9,000 a device, it’s also relatively expensive for the average fisherman, say officials, but attempts are on to subsidise it by as much as 90%.
  • The device could be more easily accessible to India’s 900,000 fishermen if the chips powering mobile phones were able to receive signals from the GAGAN system.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Geotail

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Geotail, Chandrayaan 2

Mains level : Accomplishments of Chandrayaan2 mission


  • Recently on board with Chandrayaan-2 mission, an instrument called CLASS, designed to detect signatures of elements in the Moon’s soil, had detected charged particles during the mission.
  • This happened in September, during the orbiter’s passage through the “geotail”.

Geotail

  • The geotail is a region in space that allows the best observations.
  • The region exists as a result of the interactions between the Sun and Earth.
  • The Sun emits the solar wind, which is a continuous stream of charged particles. These particles are embedded in the extended magnetic field of the Sun.
  • Since the Earth has a magnetic field, it obstructs the solar wind plasma.
  • This interaction results in the formation of a magnetic envelope around Earth.
  • On the Earth side facing the Sun, the envelope is compressed into a region that is approximately three to four times the Earth radius.
  • On the opposite side, the envelope is stretched into a long tail, which extends beyond the orbit of the Moon. It is this tail that is called the geotail.

About CLASS

  • CLASS stands for Chandrayaan 2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer.
  • For the CLASS instrument seeking to detect element signatures, the lunar soil can be best observed when a solar flare provides a rich source of X-rays to illuminate the surface.
  • Secondary X-ray emission resulting from this can be detected by CLASS to directly detect the presence of key elements like Na, Ca, Al, Si, Ti and Fe.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Project NETRA

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Project NETRA

Mains level : Need for ensuring Space situational awareness (SSA)

  • ISRO has initiated ‘Project NETRA’ – an early warning system in space to detect debris and other hazards to Indian satellites.

Project NETRA (Network for space object Tracking and Analysis)

  • The project will give India its own capability in space situational awareness (SSA) like the other space powers — which is used to ‘predict’ threats from debris to Indian satellites.
  • NETRA’s eventual goal is to capture the GEO, or geostationary orbit, scene at 36,000 km where communication satellites operate.
  • The space agency says our SSA will first be for low-earth orbits or LEO which have remote-sensing spacecraft.
  • Under NETRA the ISRO plans to put up many observational facilities: connected radars, telescopes; data processing units and a control centre.
  • They can, among others, spot, track and catalogue objects as small as 10 cm, up to a range of 3,400 km and equal to a space orbit of around 2,000 km.
  • The NETRA effort would make India a part of international efforts towards tracking, warning about and mitigating space debris.

What NETRA consists of?

  • In the plans are a high-precision, long range telescope in Leh and a radar in the North East.
  • Along with them, we will also use the Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) that we have put up at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, and the telescopes at Ponmudi and Mount Abu to get a broad SSA picture.
  • NORAD, or the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is an initiative of the U.S. and Canada that shares selective debris data with many countries.
  • The new SSA centre would consolidate debris tracking activities that are now spread across ISRO centres.
  • Currently there are 15 functional Indian communication satellites in the geostationary orbit of 36,000 km; 13 remote sensing satellites in LEO of up to 2,000 km; and eight navigation satellites in medium earth orbits.

Why Space debris matters?

  • Space debris could be floating particles from dead satellites or rocket parts that stay in orbit for many years.
  • Satellite agencies worry over even a speck of paint or fragment floating towards their spacecraft: it disables on board electronics and cripples the satellite worth several hundred crore rupees.
  • Agencies constantly look for debris at the time of a launch and through the life of a satellite.

Enhancing Space situational awareness (SSA)

  • India, as a responsible space power, should have SSA as a part of a national capability, as in the U.S. This is a vital requirement for protecting our space assets and a force multiplier.
  • The SSA has a military quotient to it and adds a new ring to the country’s overall security.
  • It uses satellites, ground and air radars to secure its two countries against attacks from air, space or sea.
  • With long-range tracking radars, the SSA also provides us the capability of an early warning system against ballistic missiles coming in at a height.
  • Apart from radars and telescopes, he said India should also think of deploying satellites that track other satellites — as the U.S. and other space powers had done.
  • Combined with other elements of military intelligence SSA would help us to understand motives behind any suspicious orbit changes of other satellites and to know if they were spying on or harming our spacecraft.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Methane-powered Rocket Engine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Methane-powered Rocket Engine

Mains level : Benefits of methane as a cryogenic fuel

  • ISRO is planning to develop methane-powered rocket engines.

LOX methane engines

  • The space agency is developing two ‘LOx methane’ engines (liquid oxygen oxidiser and methane fuel) engines.
  • One of the two projects is trying to convert the existing cryogenic engine, which uses liquid hydrogen for fuel, into a LOx methane engine.
  • The other is a smaller engine of 3 tonnes thrust, which will feature an electric motor.
  • These are being developed at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Trivandrum.

Presently used fuel

  • ISRO currently prefers to use a fuel called Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine, along with Nitrogen tetroxide for oxidizer, in its liquid fuel (Vikas) engines, which are used in the lower stages of its rockets, PSLV and GSLV.

Why methane?

  • Di-Methyl Hydrazine like all hydrazine-based fuels, is said to be highly toxic and cancer-causing.
  • Globally, governments are keen on banning hydrazine.
  • Besides, methane beats hydrazine on every other count.
  • Apart from being non-toxic, it has a higher specific impulse which means one kg of the gas can life one kg of mass for a longer time.
  • Methane, which can be synthesized with water and carbon dioxide in space, is often described as the space fuel of the future.
  • It is easy to store, does not leave a residue upon burning, less bulky, and, importantly, can be synthesized up in space.

Methane vs. DMH

  • Methane-fired engines need an igniter to start the fire.
  • Hydrazine fuels are hypergolic, which means they start burning on their own upon coming in contact with oxygen.

Development in India

  • Mumbai-based start-up Manastu Space is developing a propulsion system that will use Hydrogen peroxide as fuel.
  • Currently, Manastu’s engines are meant for steering satellites in orbit but they can be scaled up to power launch vehicles.
  • According to the company, the space industry started with Hydrogen peroxide, but moved to a ‘better’ hydrazine.
  • But Manastu has developed a chemical additive, which it is trying to patent — the additive will enable Hydrogen peroxide to elbow hydrazine out of the competition.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] ISRO’s Moon mission presents India a chance to reassess its space priorities

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Space industry and the future goals

CONTEXT

Vikram lander appears to have made a hard-landing because of which ISRO is not able to establish any contact so far. 

Past experience

There have been occasions in the past when declared “dead” satellites/space probes have suddenly come alive. NASA’s IMAGE satellite launched in early 2000 stopped transmitting in late 2005 and was declared dead. NASA declared this satellite alive again in 2018.

ISRO – What lies ahead

  • With various successes in the domain of space, ISRO has raised the stature of the country internationally.
  • India should make an assessment of the technical resources and expertise available with ISRO to carry forward a major space programme. 
  • It is important to factor in the nature of the private space industry to support a space programme of this size. 
  • International collaborations have become an important element in the present times. 
  • Going to the Moon and Mars is important for multiple reasons, including the quest for minerals and energy security (Helium 3). 
  • India should avoid getting swayed by the “Space Race”.
  • Space should emerge as an important constituent of foreign policy. Missions to the Moon and Mars offer India opportunities for bilateral or multilateral collaboration. Such collaborations could allow technology sharing and they could also prove to be more cost-effective and time-saving.
  • India needs to make more investments in its strategic programme: Efforts made to conduct an ASAT (anti-satellite test) should be capitalised upon. Today, the armed forces require many more satellites for various purposes. There is a need to evolve a separate agency for this purpose.

CONCLUSION

Investments in this domain should be done only for social reasons, for science and for security. If India has to emerge as a space power, then it should be via a combination of soft and hard power. Missions like the ones to the Moon offer such opportunities.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Chandrayaan-2 Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandrayan 2

Mains level : Significance of the Mission

  • The Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-2 failed to make a smooth soft-landing, unable to bring down its speed to the required level.
  • The Vikram lander and Pragyan rover were supposed to land on the moon and carry out observations and experiments for 14 days.

Why it was difficult?

  • The polar regions of the moon are a very different, and difficult, terrain.
  • Many parts lie in a completely dark region where sunlight never reaches, and temperatures can go below 230 degree Celsius.
  • Lack of sunlight and extreme low temperatures create difficulty in operation of instruments.
  • In addition, there are large craters all over the place, ranging from a few cm in size to those extending to several thousands of kilometres.

About the Chandrayaan Mission

Chandrayaan-2 Mission

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Mitra Crater

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Mitra crater

Mains level : Not Much


  • Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter or mother spacecraft has zeroed in on a crater on the moon named after 20th century’s.

Mitra Crater

  • Mitra is a lunar impact crater that is attached to the western outer rim of the larger crater Mach, on the far side of the Moon.
  • It is named after Sisir Kumar Mitra (1890-1963). He also lends his name to the S. K. Mitra Centre for Research in Space Environment of the University of Calcutta.
  • This is a heavily eroded formation with an outer rim that has been damaged by subsequent impacts.
  • The pictures were taken by the Terrain Mapping Camera-2 at the north pole of moon.
  • At 25 degrees Kelvin (minus 248 degrees Celsius), the northern polar region is believed to be one of the coldest spots in the solar system.

Lunar nomenclature

  • The first attempts at naming lunar craters date back to the 17th century, K B Shingareva and G A Burba write in their book The Lunar Nomenclature: The Reverse Side of the Moon, 1961-1973.
  • Some used the names of prominent personalities — scientists, philosophers and even members of royalty — while others named the lunar features after comparable features on Earth.
  • In a resolution by the International Astronomical Union in 1973, crater and crater-like formations are given the names of astronomers or eminent scientists , posthumously.
  • Among other lunar features, mountains are given names corresponding to the geographical names of mountains of the Earth, while extensive dark surfaces are given names that correspond to the mental states of humans.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

New ISRO system to shield its assets from space debris

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NORAD

Mains level : ASAT mission and associated issues

Space Situational Awareness and Management

  • To get accurate data about the movement of space debris to avoid collision with its satellites, ISRO has decided to set up telescopes and radars in four corners of the country.
  • The network will be set up under the Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management.
  • The directorate would monitor inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near-earth asteroids and adverse space weather conditions.
  • Currently ISRO has 50 functional satellites, including communication, navigation and surveillance satellites, in space.

Why such development?

  • Till now, ISRO was dependent on NORAD (North America Aerospace Defense Command) data, which is available in public domain, for keeping track of space debris and monitoring our active and passive (dead) satellites.
  • However, this global data is not accurate.
  • NORAD also keeps accurate data, which is exclusively available to those that are members of its network. Therefore, ISRO can’t access this data.

What have been planned for this?

  • ISRO’s sophisticated multi-object tracking radar installed in Nellore (90km from Sriharikota) will be part of this project.
  • It will also set up a telescope in Ponmudi (Thiruvananthapuram) and second one in Mount Abu (Rajasthan) and third one in deep north.
  • ISRO will also install radar in the northeast.
  • Once this network is operational, India will be able to get accurate data on space debris and will also become part of the global network where India can access very accurate data on debris from hundreds of radars set up across the world.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] ISRO Technical Liaison Unit

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ITLU

Mains level : International collaboration for ISRO missions

  • The Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has approved the setting up of ISRO Technical Liaison Unit (ITLU) at Moscow, Russia.

Background

  • Department of Space has instituted technical Liaison Units, namely ISRO Technical Liaison Units (ITLU) at Washington, USA and Paris, France.
  • The prime objective of ITLU is to liaise with various Government and space agencies in USA and Europe, respectively.
  • Space cooperation has been one of the major links between India and Russia almost from the beginning of the space era and currently both sides are actively pursuing interactions in diversified areas of space programme.
  • Apart from intensifying cooperation with Russia, India has expanded its space cooperation with countries near to Russia.

 ITLU at Moscow

  • The ITLU at Moscow will enable effective technical coordination for timely interventions on diversified matters with Russia and neighbouring countries for realization of the programmatic targets of ISRO.
  • The Liaison Officer, deputed at ITLU from ISRO provides technical information about the developments in research and technology to government agencies and industries in the respective countries.
  • They also support the ongoing bilateral programmes of cooperation in space technology and act on behalf of ISRO on the matters referred.
  • The ITLU Moscow office would be managed by an ISRO Scientist/Engineer designated as “Counsellor (Space)” on deputation, deputed from ISRO and supported by a staff locally sourced.
  • The process is planned to be completed within six months from the date of approval.

Benefits

  • ISRO will be able to collaborate with Space agencies/industries in Russia and neighbouring countries for mutually synergetic outcomes.
  • ISRO’s Gaganyaan programme requires development of some of the key technologies and establishment of specialized facilities, which are essential to support life in space.
  • For ambitious missions like Gaganyaan it is prudent to avail technical cooperation from International space agencies, who have already demonstrated their technical capabilities in specific areas.
  • Russia, being one of the space faring nations, it is envisaged to collaborate with Russia extensively in various fields of relevance.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Successful Launch of Chandrayaan-2

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandrayan 2

Mains level : India's moon mission


  • The 640-tonne GSLV Mk-III rocket successfully injected the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 composite module into the Earth’s orbit.
  • With the successful launch all eyes are now on September 7 when the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft will make a soft landing on the surface of the moon.

Chandrayaan-2: India’s first lander mission

  • Chandrayaan-2 consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
  • The Orbiter would once again watch the moon from a 100-km orbit, while the Lander and Rover modules will separate and make a soft-landing on moon’s surface.
  • ISRO has named the Lander module as Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme, and the Rover module as Pragyaan, meaning wisdom.
  • Once on the moon, the rover, a six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle, will detach itself from the lander, and would slowly crawl on the surface, making observations and collecting data.

Tasks to be accomplished

  • The mission will be equipped with two instruments, and its primary objective would be to study the composition of the moon’s surface near the landing site, and determine its abundance of different elements.
  • One of the instruments will also look out for seismic activity on lunar surface.
  • While the lander and rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day), the Orbiter, a 2379-kg spacecraft with seven instruments on board, would remain in orbit for a year.
  • It is equipped with different kinds of cameras to take high-resolution 3D maps of the surface.
  • It also has instruments to study the mineral composition on the moon and the lunar atmosphere, and also to assess the abundance of water.

Chandrayaan-2 to enter uncharted territory

  • With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon.
  • So far, all landings, human as well as non-human, on the moon have been in areas close to its equator.
  • That was mainly because this area receives more sunlight that is required by the solar-powered instruments to function.
  • Earlier this year, in January, China landed a lander and rover on the far side of the moon, the side that is not facing the earth. This was the first time that any landing had taken place on that side.

What differentiates Chandrayaan 2 with others?

  • Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, near the South pole of the moon.
  • It is a completely unexplored territory and therefore offers great scientific opportunity for the mission to see and discover something new.
  • Incidentally, the crash-landing of the MIP from the Chandrayaan-1 mission had also happened in the same region.
  • The south pole of the moon holds the possibility of the presence of water, and this is one aspect that would be probed meticulously by Chandrayaan-2.
  • In addition, this area is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of history of moon, and also contain clues to the fossil records of early solar system.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Soaring to the moon

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandrayaan

Mains level : Chandrayaan 2 mission

CONTEXT

A decade after the first successful mission to the moon with Chandrayaan-1, the Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched its sequel, Chandrayaan-2, to further explore the earth’s natural satellite.

Moon exploration

  • Earlier this year, China landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the moon, in a first-ever attempt.
  • Now India is attempting a similar feat — to land its rover Pragyan in the moon’s South Polar region, attempted so far by none.
  • The equatorial region has been the only one where rovers have landed and explored.

Significance of launch

  • The launch by itself is a huge achievement considering that it is the first operational flight of the indigenously developed Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mark-III) to send up satellites weighing up to four tonnes
  • The orbiter, the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan) together weigh 3.87 tonnes.
  • Having reached the earth parking orbit, the orbit of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will be raised in five steps or manoeuvres in the coming 23 days before it reaches the final orbit of 150 x 1,41,000 km.
  • It is in this orbit that Chandrayaan-2 will attain the velocity to escape from the earth’s gravitational pull and start the long journey towards the moon.
  • A week later, on August 20, the spacecraft will come under the influence of the moon’s gravitational pull, and in a series of steps the altitude of the orbit will be reduced in 13 days to reach the final circular orbit at a height of 100 km.
  • The next crucial step will be the decoupling of the lander (Vikram) and the rover (Pragyan) from the orbiter, followed by the soft-landing of the lander-rover in the early hours of September 7.
  • Despite the postponement of the launch from July 16 owing to a technical snag, the tweaked flight plan has ensured that the Pragyan robotic vehicle will have 14 earth days, or one moon day, to explore.

Innovation

  • Unlike the crash-landing of the Moon Impact Probe on the Chandrayaan-1 mission in November 2008, this will be the first time that ISRO is attempting to soft-land a lander on the earth’s natural satellite.
  • A series of braking mechanisms will be needed to drastically reduce the velocity of the Vikram lander from nearly 6,000 km an hour, to ensure that the touchdown is soft.

Aims of mission

  • The presence of water on the moon was first indicated by the Moon Impact Probe and NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper on Chandrayaan-1 a decade ago. The imaging infrared spectrometer instrument on board the orbiter will enable ISRO to look for signatures indicating the presence of water.
  • Though the Terrain Mapping Camera on board Chandrayaan-1 had mapped the moon three-dimensionally at 5-km resolution, Chandrayaan-2 too has such a camera to produce a 3-D map.
  • But it will be for the first time that the vertical temperature gradient and thermal conductivity of the lunar surface, and lunar seismicity, will be studied.

Conclusion

While ISRO gained much with the success of Chandrayaan-1 and Mangalyaan, the success of Chandrayaan-2 will go a long way in testing the technologies for deep-space missions.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NAVIC, GPS

Mains level : Utility of NAVIC


  • The navigation system that Indians use on their mobile phones and cars could be set for a reboot.
  • It has been reported that ISRO is in talks with processing chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to substitute the existing Global Positioning System (GPS) with the Indian version of satellite navigation.

What is NavIC?

  • NavIC is an independent Indian satellite-based positioning system for critical national applications.
  • India got its system with the launch of the IRNSS 1-G satellite, is the seventh member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), in November 2017.
  • It consists of a constellation of seven satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit and four in a geosynchronous orbit.
  • The IRNSS can provide Standard Positioning Service (SPS) to all users, and an encrypted Restricted Service (RS) to authorised users.
  • It has position accuracy better than 20 metres in the primary service area.
  • Its purpose is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and neighbourhood.

What is the service coverage?

  • The regional navigation satellite system can provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region, extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its Primary Service Area.
  • Beyond that lies an Extended Service Area, that can extend up to the edges of the area enclosed by the rectangle imagined by latitudes 30 degrees South and 50 degrees North, and longitudes 30 degrees East and 130 degrees East.

Is India the only country to have its positioning system?

  • The GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force.
  • Apart from GPS, there is GLONASS of Russia, Galileo of the European Union and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (or BDS) of China.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed of the day] Expanding India’s share in global space economy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Missions of ISRO

Mains level : How to increase share of ISRO in international space sector

Note- Op-ed of the day is the most important editorial of the day. Aspirants should try to cover at least this editorial on a daily basis to have command over most important issues in news. It will help in enhancing and enriching the content in mains answers. Please do not miss this at any cost.

CONTEXT

  • From a modest beginning in the 1960s, India’s space programme has grown steadily, achieving significant milestones. These include fabrication of satellites, space-launch vehicles, and a range of associated capabilities.
  • The draft Space Activities Bill introduced in 2017 has lapsed and the government now has an opportunity to give priority to a new Bill that can be welcomed by the private sector, both the larger players and the start-ups alike.

ISRO’s thrust areas

1.Satellite communication –

  • The first area was of satellite communication, with INSAT and GSAT as the backbones, to address the national needs for telecommunication, broadcasting and broadband infrastructure.
  •  About 200 transponders on Indian satellites provide services linked to areas like telecommunication, telemedicine, television, broadband, radio, disaster management and search and rescue services.
  • A second area of focus was earth observation and using space-based imagery for a slew of national demands, ranging from weather forecasting, disaster management and national resource mapping and planning.
  • These resources cover agriculture and watershed, land resource, and forestry managements.
  • With higher resolution and precise positioning, Geographical Information Systems’ applications today cover all aspects of rural and urban development and planning.
  • Beginning with the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) series in the 1980s, today the RISAT, Cartosat and Resourcesat series provide wide-field and multi-spectral high resolution data for land, ocean and atmospheric observations.

3.Navigation

  • The GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN), a joint project between ISRO and Airports Authority of India, augmented the GPS coverage of the region, improving the accuracy and integrity, primarily for civil aviation applications and better air traffic management over Indian airspace.
  • This was followed up with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), a system based on seven satellites in geostationary and geosynchronous orbits.
  • It provides accurate positioning service, covering a region extending to 1,500 km beyond Indian borders, with an accuracy greater than 20 metres; higher accuracy positioning is available to the security agencies for their use.
  • In 2016, the system was renamed NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation).

4. Space science and exploration missions

  • With growing confidence, ISRO has also started to undertake more ambitious space science and exploration missions.
  • The most notable of these have been the Chandrayaan and the Mangalyaan missions, with a manned space mission, Gaganyaan, planned for its first test flight in 2021.

5. Launch-vehicle technology

  • Beginning with the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV) and the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV), ISRO has developed and refined the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) as its workhorse for placing satellites in low earth and sun synchronous orbits.
  • The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) programme is still developing with its MkIII variant, having undertaken three missions, and is capable of carrying a 3.5 MT payload into a geostationary orbit.

Share in international space market

  • Today, the value of the global space industry is estimated to be $350 billion and is likely to exceed $550 billion by 2025.
  • Despite ISRO’s impressive capabilities, India’s share is estimated at $7 billion (just 2% of the global market) covering broadband and Direct-to-Home television (accounting for two-thirds of the share), satellite imagery and navigation.
  • Already, over a third of transponders used for Indian services are leased from foreign satellites and this proportion will rise as the demand grows.

New Space

  • Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and big data analytics has led to the emergence of ‘New Space’ — a disruptive dynamic based on using end-to-end efficiency concepts.
  • A parallel is how the independent app developers, given access to the Android and Apple platforms, revolutionised smartphone usage.
  • New Space entrepreneurship has emerged in India with about two dozen start-ups who are not enamoured of the traditional vendor/supplier model but see value in exploring end-to-end services in the Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer segments. 

‘New Space’ start-ups

  • The New Space start-ups discern a synergy with government’s flagship programmes like Digital India, Start-Up India, Skill India and schemes like Smart Cities Mission.
  • They see a role as a data-app builder between the data seller (ISRO/Antrix) and the end user, taking advantage of the talent pool, innovation competence and technology know-how.
  • They need an enabling ecosystem, a culture of accelerators, incubators, Venture Capitalists and mentors that exists in cities like Bengaluru which is where most New Space start-ups have mushroomed.

Small Satelite revolution

  •  Globally, 17,000 small satellites are expected to be launched between now and 2030. ISRO is developing a small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) expected to be ready in 2019.
  • It is a prime candidate, along with the proven PSLV, to be farmed out to the private sector. This requires giving it responsibility for AIT activities.

Rural area revolution

  • Years ago, ISRO launched the idea of Village Resource Centres to work in collaboration with local panchayats and NGOs but only 460 pilots have begun.
  • Expanding this for rural areas is a formidable challenge but has the potential to transform rural India if properly conceived as a part of the India Stack and the Jan Dhan Yojana.

Conclusion

With the Ministry of Defence now setting up a Defence Space Agency and a Defence Space Research Organisation, ISRO should actively embrace an exclusively civilian identity. A new Space law for India should aim at facilitating growing India’s share of global space economy to 10% within a decade which requires a new kind of partnership between ISRO, the established private sector and the New Space entrepreneurs.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] What it would take for India to become a proper space power

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Defence Space Agency (DSA)

Mains level : India's quest for security amidst clouds of space war

Cold war is under way for hegemony in Space

  • The Govt. has recently decided to set up Defence Space Agency (DSA) with command over the space assets of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
  • This is the most significant development in India’s defence establishment since the operationalization of the nuclear arsenal around 15 years ago.
  • It is not Star Wars yet, but space has undoubtedly become a military theatre.
  • The US, Russia, China and, since March, India, have shown that they have the capability to physically destroy satellites in orbit.
  • Like it or not, the post-Cold War space arms race is underway.

India’s is the  bottom-up approach

  • It is important to recall that India has taken an exceptional route took to get here.
  • The US, Russia, China and Europe developed space capabilities for military purposes first, and then put those technologies to civilian use.
  • Barring Europe’s Ariane rockets, their extant satellite launch vehicles are derived from their respective intercontinental ballistic missile designs.
  • India’s space quest, on the other hand, was focused on civilian use—weather forecasting, broadcast, telecommunications and remote sensing.
  • It was only in the mid-1980s that technology from the ISRO’s Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 was employed in the Agni ballistic missile.

We are the last in race

  • When it comes to satellites, India has a handful of military satellites in operation, compared to over 40 civilian ones.
  • Our first dedicated military satellite was launched only in 2013.
  • Just like India was late to militarize space, it has been late to weaponize it.
  • That’s not a bad thing, but in the changed circumstances of the 21st century, it is time to rethink our approach.

Then what should be India’s objectives in this new game?

  • India’s unstated space doctrine is to use space to promote development and the well-being and prosperity of its people.
  • However the need of hour is to include the word “security” in that sentence.
  • In doing so, the policy goal will change from having a space presence to being a space power.

What does it mean to be a space power?

  • Colin Gray, one of the world’s most respected scholars of strategy, says that it is “the ability to use space while denying reliable use to any foe”.
  • India already has significant ability to use space. But our ability to deny its use to an adversary is, understandably, negligible.
  • March’s anti-satellite (A-SAT) test is the first visible sign that India is on the road to acquire counter-space capability.
  • The newly instituted DSA will be supported by a defence space research organization (DSRO) that should create weapons to “deny, degrade, disrupt, destroy or deceive an adversary’s space capability”.

Challenges ahead for India

At this stage of the space game, the DSA will need to consider taking up four challenges as under:

I. Strengthening anti-space weapon capability

  • First, India must protect and secure two kinds of space assets—those that belong to us and those that are crucial to our economy and national security.
  • While satellites are usually hardened to weather the harsh extremes of the space environment, in older designs, protection against space weapons might not have been considered.
  • Future designs must certainly factor in the risk of attack by hostile forces.

II. Tracking space enemies

  • Second, in order to effectively defend our space assets, India must have the most reliable and accurate capabilities to track space objects, from debris and spacecraft to celestial bodies.
  • Since accurate tracking forms the basis of almost every conceivable action that we might undertake—including the all-important ability to target at will—this crucial capability must be developed indigenously.

III. Ensuring a credible offensive capacity

  • Third, for space defence to be effective, India must acquire a minimum, credible offensive capacity across the various types of space weapons, physical, electronic and cyber.
  • The “minimum” is to ensure that we do not get overly drawn into an arms race, while ensuring that we have what it takes to deter attacks on our space assets.
  • As India has demonstrated in the nuclear sphere, such a posture is wise, possible and works.
  • Credibility demands that both partners and adversaries are persuaded that we have the capacity, so occasional demonstrations become necessary.

IV. Technological perfection

  • Finally, our broader space policy must acquire a new seriousness in improving launch capabilities and spacecraft design.
  • The ability to place large satellites in geostationary orbits should become highly reliable.
  • ISRO’s budgets must be enlarged, of course, but just as importantly, private entrants encouraged in everything from launches to specialized payloads.
  • Like the US, China has recognized that the creative energies of private entrepreneurs can bolster its space power.

Conclusion

  • Five centuries ago, a few small European countries acquired global power and domination by investing in well-armed blue-water navies.
  • On the subcontinent, the mighty Mughal empire—larger and perhaps militarily more powerful than most of them—settled for a coastal force performing constabulary duties.
  • The failure to appreciate how much the game had changed, and how best to equip for it, proved very expensive in the long run. Let us not forget that lesson.

Back2Basics

Defence Space Research Agency (DSRA)

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] New Space India Limited (NSIL)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Space India Limited (NSIL)

Mains level : Expanding commercial functions of ISRO

  • New Space India Limited (NSIL) has been incorporated as a wholly owned GoI Undertaking/Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE).
  • Antrix Ltd is another PSU under the Department of Space that acts as an commercial arm of the ISRO

New Space India Limited (NSIL)

  • It functions under the administrative control of Department of Space (DOS).
  • It aims to commercially exploit the research and development work of ISRO Centres and constituent units of DOS.
  • The NSIL would enable Indian Industries to scale up high-technology manufacturing and production base for meeting the growing needs of Indian space programme/
  • It would further spur the growth of Indian Industries in the space sector.

Functions of NSIL

  • Small Satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein NSIL will obtain license from DOS/ISRO and sub-license it to industries;
  • Manufacture of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with Private Sector;
  • Production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through Indian Industry;
  • Production and marketing of Space based products and services, including launch and application;
  • Transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DOS;
  • Marketing spin-off technologies and products/services, both in India and abroad

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Space Activities Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Space Activities Bill

Mains level : Promoting private space activities in India

  • India has begun prelegislative consultations on a “Space Activities Bill” that is designed to encourage domestic private rocket and satellite companies to offer services for Indian and global customers.

About the Space Activities Bill, 2017

  • The Bill will address the liability issues arising from their space activities, in a suitable/ rational manner, in line with international practices.
  • The government first introduced the Bill in 2017.

Key propositions of the Bill

  • The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
  • A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
  • The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licensing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
  • The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
  • It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
  • It will ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of a space activity.
  • It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  • If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

Why reconsider the Bill?

  • The current space policy does not cover liabilities for damage to third party space assets although the country is a signatory to the UN Treaties on Outer Space activity.
  • The Bill will help formulate necessary rules under the Space Activities Act to deal with damages under the liability provisions and the mode of securing financial guarantee to compensate for damages.
  • This bill would address a long-pending concern on covering liabilities in the event of a mishap or damage to spacecraft.

For tapping global opportunities

  • India’s PSLV has emerged as the preferred rocket to hurl small satellites globally.
  • India is also working on a small satellite launch vehicle that is designed to tap the global opportunity to carry satellites of less than 50 kg into space.
  • The US, France and the EU have legislations that underwrite costs of damage if it exceeds insurance when a private satellite launch goes awry or a rocket hits another object in space.

With inputs from: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/the-hindu-explains-what-is-the-space-activities-bill-2017/article20680984.ece

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO plans to launch a space station

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : International Space Station

Mains level : Utility of space stations

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to launch its own space station.

The Indian Space Station

  • A space station is an artificial satellite placed in orbit and is used as a long-term base for manned operations in space.
  • The Indian space station would be stationed at an altitude of 400 kilometres from Earth.
  • The proposed Indian space station would be similar to the International Space Station (ISS) but smaller in size weighing about 20 tonnes and would take another 5 to 7 seven years to construct.
  • India would be the fourth country to launch a space station as the US and Russia has already launched their space stations and China is planning to launch its in 2020.

About the ISS

  • The International Space Station, which launched its first piece in 1998, is a large spacecraft which orbits around the Earth and is home to the astronauts.
  • The ISS is currently the only active space station in the earth’s orbit.
  • The first crew on the space station arrived on November 2, 2000.
  • The space station is home to minimum of six astronauts, with two bathrooms, a gymnasium, and a big bay window.
  • It is a joint project between five participating space agencies -NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Chandrayaan-2 Mission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chandrayan 1, 2

Mains level : Prospects of the ISRO mission


  • The ISRO will finally launch the much-awaited Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon.
  • The mission will be launched on July 15, and its lander and rover will touch down on the moon’s surface either on September 5 or 6.

Background

  • The Chandrayaan-2 mission has taken a long way coming, considering that its predecessor, Chandrayaan-1, an Orbiter mission, had been sent way back in 2008.
  • According to the original schedule, Chandrayaan-2 was to be launched in 2012 itself in a collaborative mission with the Russian space agency, Roskosmos, which was to provide the lander module.
  • The Russians, however, withdrew from the missions after their similarly-designed lander for another mission developed problems in 2011.
  • That left ISRO to design, develop and build the lander on its own, something it has not done earlier, which has led to considerable delay from the original schedule.

A sequel to Chandrayaan-1

  • The Chandrayaan-1 mission which was launched in October 2008 was ISRO’s first exploratory mission to the moon, in fact to any heavenly body in the space.
  • That mission was designed to just orbit around the moon and make observations with the help of the instruments on board.
  • The closest that Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft came to the moon was in an orbit 100 km from its surface.
  • Chandrayaan-2 is a logical progression on Chandrayaan-1. It is a more sophisticated mission designed to pack in a whole lot of science.

The Moon Impact Probe

  • For largely symbolic reasons, though, the Chandrayaan-1 mission did make one of its instruments, called Moon Impact Probe, or MIP.
  • It was a 35-kg cube-shaped module with the Indian tricolour on all its sides, to crash-land on the moon’s surface.
  • ISRO claims that while on its way, MIP had sent data that showed evidence for the presence of water on the moon.
  • Unfortunately, those findings could not be published because of anomalies in calibration of the data.
  • The confirmation for water had come through another onboard instrument, the M3 or Moon Mineralogy Mapper that had been put by NASA.

Chandrayaan-2: India’s first lander mission

  • Chandrayaan-2 consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
  • The Orbiter would once again watch the moon from a 100-km orbit, while the Lander and Rover modules will separate and make a soft-landing on moon’s surface.
  • ISRO has named the Lander module as Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme, and the Rover module as Pragyaan, meaning wisdom.
  • Once on the moon, the rover, a six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle, will detach itself from the lander, and would slowly crawl on the surface, making observations and collecting data.

Tasks to be accomplished

  • The mission will be equipped with two instruments, and its primary objective would be to study the composition of the moon’s surface near the landing site, and determine its abundance of different elements.
  • The 1471-kg lander, which will remain stationary after touching down, will carry three instruments that will mainly study the moon’s atmosphere.
  • One of the instruments will also look out for seismic activity on lunar surface.
  • While the lander and rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day), the Orbiter, a 2379-kg spacecraft with seven instruments on board, would remain in orbit for a year.
  • It is equipped with different kinds of cameras to take high-resolution 3D maps of the surface.
  • It also has instruments to study the mineral composition on the moon and the lunar atmosphere, and also to assess the abundance of water.

Chandrayaan-2 to enter uncharted territory

  • With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon.
  • So far, all landings, human as well as non-human, on the moon have been in areas close to its equator.
  • That was mainly because this area receives more sunlight that is required by the solar-powered instruments to function.
  • Earlier this year, in January, China landed a lander and rover on the far side of the moon, the side that is not facing the earth. This was the first time that any landing had taken place on that side.
  • The Chinese mission, Chang’e 4, was designed to function for three lunar days has outlived its mission life and entered its fifth lunar night.

What differentiates Chandrayaan 2 with others?

  • Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, near the South pole of the moon.
  • It is a completely unexplored territory and therefore offers great scientific opportunity for the mission to see and discover something new.
  • Incidentally, the crash-landing of the MIP from the Chandrayaan-1 mission had also happened in the same region.
  • The south pole of the moon holds the possibility of the presence of water, and this is one aspect that would be probed meticulously by Chandrayaan-2.
  • In addition, this area is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of history of moon, and also contain clues to the fossil records of early solar system.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

RISAT-2B: An all-seeing radar imaging satellite Copy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RISAT Constellation

Mains level : Utility of the all weather imaging satellite


News

  • The PSLV-C46 is set to launch RISAT-2B from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

RISAT Constellation

  • RISAT-2B, short for “Radar Imaging Satellite-2B”, is the second in a series of satellites used to observe weather conditions on Earth using radar imagery.
  • RISAT-2 was the first satellite in the series, launched for the purpose of surveillance. RISAT-1 was launched later, to become India’s first all-weather radar imaging satellite.
  • RISAT-2B is to be followed by RISAT-2BR1, 2BR2, RISAT-1A, 1B, 2A and so on.
  • ISRO orbited its first two radar satellites in 2009 & 2012 and it plans to deploy four or five of them in 2019 alone.
  • A constellation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • Once operational, the satellite will be capable of monitoring weather day and night, in all weather conditions.

About PSLV-C46

  • The PSLV-C46 mission is ISRO’s 48 PSLV launch, and the 14th PSLV Core-Alone (CA) mission.
  • The PSLV was the first of ISRO’s rockets to be equipped with liquid rocket stages.
  • In the PSLV-CA version, the rocket doesn’t have the six strap-on boosters that larger rockets do, and only uses the four core stages of the PSLV to launch its payload.

Utility of this constellation

  • When it is cloudy or dark, ‘regular’ remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites — which work like a light-dependent camera — cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • Satellites that are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud.
  • This all-weather seeing feature is what makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.
  • In India we also use radar imaging for crop estimation because our main crop growing season of kharif is in May-September when it rains and gets cloudy.
  • We have used this data extensively for forestry, soil, land use, geology and during floods and cyclone.
  • Radar imaging satellites pick up structures, new bunkers very well, and sometimes help to count them, too.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s new commercial arm NewSpace India officially inaugurated

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NewSpace India Limited (NSIL)

Mains level : Commercial activities by ISRO

  • NewSpace India Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO was officially inaugurated in Bengaluru.

NewSpace India Limited (NSIL)

  • NSIL’s main objective is to scale up industry participation in Indian space programmes.
  • NSIL was incorporated on March 6 2019, for commercially utilising research and development activities carried out by ISRO in the area of space with an authorised share capital of Rs 100 crore and initial paid up capital of Rs 10 crore.
  • NSIL will act as an aggregator for all space related activities in industry and develop private entrepreneurship in space related technologies.

Services to be provided

  • Specifically, it will be responsible for manufacturing and production of Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) and Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) through technology transfer mechanisms.
  • It will also cater to emerging global commercial SSLV market demand, providing satellite building and satellite-based services.
  • Its services will include supply of sub-systems for various domestic and international application needs and will enable space technology spin-offs through Indian industry interface.
  • It will enable space technology spin-offs via Indian industry interface.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Eye in the sky: on RISAT-2B

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RISAT-2B

Mains level : Benefits of RISAT- 2B

CONTEXT

With the successful pre-dawn launch of RISAT-2B satellite on May 22, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has added another feather to its cap.

Benefits of RISAT-2B

1. Agriculture, Disaster Management and Forestry

The satellite will enhance India’s capability in crop monitoring during the monsoon season, forestry mapping for forest fires and deforestation, and flood mapping as part of the national disaster management programme.

2. All weather monitoring – 

  • Given that overcast skies are a constant during the monsoon season and during times of flood, the ability to penetrate the cloud cover is essential.
  • While optical remote sensing that relies on visible light for imaging gets obstructed by clouds, RISAT-2B will not. Much like the RISAT-1 satellite that was launched by ISRO in April 2012, RISAT-2B will also use microwave radiation.
  • Unlike visible light, microwaves have longer wavelength and so will not be susceptible to atmospheric scattering.
  • Microwave radiation can thus easily pass through the cloud cover, haze and dust, and image the ground.
  • Hence, RISAT-2B satellite will be able to image under almost all weather and environmental conditions.

3. No dependence on visible light –

  • Since it does not rely on visible light for imaging, it will be able to image the ground during both day and night.
  • The satellite does not have passive microwave sensors that detect the radiation naturally emitted by the atmosphere or reflected by objects on the ground.
  • Instead, RISAT-2B will be transmitting hundreds of microwave pulses each second towards the ground and receiving the signals reflected by the objects using radar.
  • The moisture and texture of the object will determine the strength of the microwave signal that gets reflected.
  • While the strength of the reflected signal will help determine different targets, the time between the transmitted and reflected signals will help determine the distance to the object.

4. Study of small objects and surveillance –

  • The RISAT-2B satellite uses X-band synthetic aperture radar for the first time; the synthetic aperture radar was developed indigenously.
  • Unlike the C-band that was used by RISAT-1, the shorter wavelength of the X-band allows for higher resolution imagery for target identification and discrimination.
  • Since it has high resolution, the satellite will be able to detect objects with dimensions of as little as a metre.
  • This capacity to study small objects and also movement could be useful for surveillance.

Conclusion

As K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space, had said last month, the satellite could be used for civil and strategic purposes. RISAT-2B will have an inclined orbit of 37 degrees, which will allow more frequent observations over the Indian subcontinent. With ISRO planning to launch four more such radar imaging satellites in a year, its ability to monitor crops and floods as well as engage in military surveillance will be greatly enhanced.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

RISAT-2B: An all-seeing radar imaging satellite

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RISAT Constellation

Mains level : Utility of the all weather imaging satellite


  • The PSLV-C46 is set to launch RISAT-2B from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

RISAT Constellation

  • RISAT-2B, short for “Radar Imaging Satellite-2B”, is the second in a series of satellites used to observe weather conditions on Earth using radar imagery.
  • RISAT-2 was the first satellite in the series, launched for the purpose of surveillance. RISAT-1 was launched later, to become India’s first all-weather radar imaging satellite.
  • RISAT-2B is to be followed by RISAT-2BR1, 2BR2, RISAT-1A, 1B, 2A and so on.
  • ISRO orbited its first two radar satellites in 2009 & 2012 and it plans to deploy four or five of them in 2019 alone.
  • A constellation of such space-based radars means a comprehensive vigil over the country.
  • Once operational, the satellite will be capable of monitoring weather day and night, in all weather conditions.

About PSLV-C46

  • The PSLV-C46 mission is ISRO’s 48 PSLV launch, and the 14th PSLV Core-Alone (CA) mission.
  • The PSLV was the first of ISRO’s rockets to be equipped with liquid rocket stages.
  • In the PSLV-CA version, the rocket doesn’t have the six strap-on boosters that larger rockets do, and only uses the four core stages of the PSLV to launch its payload.

Utility of this constellation

  • When it is cloudy or dark, ‘regular’ remote-sensing or optical imaging satellites — which work like a light-dependent camera — cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects on the ground.
  • Satellites that are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud.
  • This all-weather seeing feature is what makes them special for security forces and disaster relief agencies.
  • In India we also use radar imaging for crop estimation because our main crop growing season of kharif is in May-September when it rains and gets cloudy.
  • We have used this data extensively for forestry, soil, land use, geology and during floods and cyclone.
  • Radar imaging satellites pick up structures, new bunkers very well, and sometimes help to count them, too.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Surveillance wars in space

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RPO, mission shakti

Mains level : Space defence activities and it's relevance

CONTEXT

Mission Shakti is a giant leap for India, but only a small step in the world of counter space.Years after Russia, the U.S., and China (referred to here as the Big Three) made a mark in this area, India too has shown that it can hit back at enemies attacking from space.

The relevance of mission Shakti

  • Military experts say that possessing the highly difficult capability to conduct such a test is important and essential for ensuring national security in space.
  • Mission Shakti, as it is called, has earned India a place in an exclusive club of ‘space defenders’.
  • However, a peek into counterspace, the world where such dangerous space activities are practised covertly by the Big Three, shows that while Mission Shakti is a giant leap for India, it is only a small step in that world.

Playground for confidential activities

  1. Secret Activities in space – According to academic reports, policymakers and those tracking the military space, for several years now, the space between 600 km and 36,000 km above the earth has been the playground for such secret activities.

2. Report’s finding – Around the time Mission Shakti took place, the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington, D.C. and the Secure World Foundation came out with reports detailing counterspace capabilities that different countries have today and their sense of threat to space assets.

3. Instances of activities –

  • The reports document that satellites have been launched to sidle up to other satellites in the same orbit.
  • Satellites with robotic arms or handles have touched or nudged their siblings in orbit.
  • Mother (or nesting) spacecraft have gone up to ‘deliver’ baby spy satellites in orbit.
  • Satellites have sneaked up to high perches to see, overhear and sense all that happens in space and on the ground.

The intent of such activities –

  • The intent of being in counterspace is thus surveillance and espionage.
  • In times of war, the intent could even be to capture or disable a rival’s space assets in orbit.
Concerns with such activities

 

  • Loud concerns have been raised over rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in space.
  • The actor countries neither acknowledge nor discuss such activities and give them other names.
  • In an RPO event, one country sends a satellite that clandestinely sits next to one of its own (or another country’s) orbiting satellites.
  • The motive could be to inspect and assess the target’s nature, eavesdrop on it, or even subvert its functions.
  • The fear is that in extreme cases, the target may even be ‘abducted’ or taken control of.

Loitering in orbit

  • Satellites of each of the Big Three has been caught loitering in orbit at different times, and the victims have cried foul.
  • In September 2018, French Defence Minister Florence Parly was reported to have charged that Russian satellite Luch-Olymp was lurking too close to — and spying on — a Franco-Italian military communications satellite, Athena-Fidus, in 2017, that is, the previous year.
  • The U.S. has reportedly had its share of RPOs and other acts.
  • Countries are also honing non-kinetic, electronics and cyber-based methods to prevent satellites of other countries from spying on their regions.
  • Cyber attacks can destroy, steal or distort other satellites or ground stations. The attacker gains control of the space asset.

Conclusion

“No one will declare that they are pursuing these kind of technologies but all are doing it, all have to do it, specially major players. In times of war no one is spared, and a country must be ready with its counter-security tactics.

 

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO plans to launch radar imaging satellite in May

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RISAT

Mains level : Significance of the RISAT Mission

  • India is planning to launch its radar imaging satellite RISAT 2BR1 sometime towards the end of this May on one of the variants of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket.

RISAT 2BR1

  • The RISAT was first deployed in orbit on April 20, 2009 as the RISAT-2.
  • It uses synthetic aperture radars (SAR) to provide Indian forces with all-weather surveillance and observation, which are crucial to notice any potential threat or malicious activity around the nation’s borders.
  • Following the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, the launch of RISAT-2 was prioritized over RISAT- 1, as its C-band SAR radar was not yet ready and RISAT -2 hence carried Israeli-built X-band radar.
  • The to-be-deployed RISAT-2BR1 satellite uses the same SAR band and will further improve India’s imaging reconnaissance abilities.
  • The rocket that would carry RISAT 2BR1 is designated as PSLV-C46 as per ISRO’s numbering system and will blast off from the first launch pad at the country’s rocket port in Sriharikota.
  • Following the launch of RISAT 2BR1, ISRO will send up a cartography satellite Catosat-3.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Outer space lessons

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Gaganyaan

Mains level : Lessons for Gaganyaan from USA's lunar mission

CONTEXT

In furthering its outer space ambitions, India must study the experiences of other space powers.

Comparison with lunar Mission

  • As scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) work toward ‘Mission Gaganyaan’, to send three Indian astronauts into space, one can’t but make comparisons with the U.S.’s lunar mission in the 1960s.
  • At the time, U.S. President John F. Kennedy made a public statement about his administration’s determination to place an American on the moon by the end of that decade.
  • The U.S.’s objective, therefore, was to have a definite public-relations edge over the U.S.S.R. in the space race, which was marked then by intense rivalry between two Cold War powers
  • A breakthrough in space was thus a matter of prestige.
  • In the context of ISRO’s plan, the prestige value of ‘Mission Gaganyaan’ is sky-high, possibly in the same league as the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Apollo Mission to the moon.

Lessons  From Lunar Mission

1.High Costs –

  • A key lesson for India from NASA’s lunar mission is that a programme of that scale and magnitude often comes at a steep cost, monetary and non-monetary.
  • More than the monetary loss, it is the non-monetary loss that matters more, as it can lend currency to the idea that such a failure indicates a waste of time and resources.

2.Hurting the image of the country –

  • A failed mission deeply hurts the image of the country in the eyes of the outside world.
  • It raises doubts about the capability of the nation-state in question.

 

3. Political Cost  –

  • Politically, a failed mission of such magnitude could give voices in the opposition an opportunity to level criticism, perhaps weakening the incumbent domestically.
  • The diplomatic costs arise from the fact that losses in space missions can seriously impact the future of cooperation between space powers.
  • For instance, during the Cold War, both the U.S. and the then U.S.S.R. exaggerated each other’s failures in space missions considerably in order to influence the overall mood among and inclinations of other nations in their favour.
  • This was most easily achieved by making the rival look as weak as possible. Historically, the media played an active role in participating in such an agenda-driven propaganda.

Conclusion –

  • Outer space is often referred to as the ‘final frontier’ by major world powers, with the prize for conquering it being even more greatness on the world stage.
  • While India’s credentials were bolstered after the successful anti-satellite mission recently, significant success in ‘Mission Gaganyaan’ might provide India with that stamp of authority in outer space that it so keenly desires.
  • For that to happen, the lessons from the experiences of other space powers must be heeded.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Phase 4 of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GSLV

Mains level : Isro missions and discoveries

  • The Union Cabinet has approved ongoing GSLV continuation programme Phase-4 consisting of five GSLV flights during the period 2021-2024.
  • The will enable the launch of 2 tonne class of satellites for Geo-imaging, Navigation, Data Relay Communication and Space Sciences.
  • It will meet the demand for the launch of satellites at a frequency up to two launches per year, with maximal participation by the Indian industry.

About GSLV

  • GSLV Continuation Programme was initially sanctioned in 2003, and two phases have been completed and the third phase is in progress and expected to be completed by Q4 of 2020-21.
  • GSLV has enabled independent access to space for 2 tonne class of satellites to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
  • One of the significant outcomes of the GSLV Continuation Programme is the mastering of the highly complex cryogenic propulsion technology, which is an essential technological capability to launch communication satellites to GTO.
  • This has also paved the way for the development of a high thrust Cryogenic engine & stage for the next generation launch vehicle i.e. GSLV Mk-lll.
  • With the recent successful launch of GSLV-F11 on 19th December 2018, GSLV has successfully orbited 10 national satellites.
  • GSLV with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage has established itself as a reliable launch vehicle for communication, navigation and meteorological satellites and also to undertake future interplanetary missions.

Major impact

  • The operationalization of GSLV has made the country self-reliant in the launching capability of 2 tonne class of satellites for communication & meteorological satellites.
  • It will sustain & strengthen the capability and self-reliance in the launching of similar satellites for national requirements including next generation navigation satellites, data relay communication satellites and interplanetary missions.
  • It will meet the launch requirement of satellites for providing critical Satellite Navigation Services, Data Relay Communication for supporting the Indian Human spaceflight programme and the next interplanetary mission to Mars.
  • This will also ensure the continuity of production in Indian industry.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Outer clarity

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : PSLV. ASAT

Mains level : There is a need to regulate outer space and prohibit its militarisaton.

CONTEXT

India’s Recent Achievements in Space

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s successful April 1 launch of the PSLV-C45 rocket that placed 29 satellites in three different orbits is remarkable both for the complex set of multi-tasking the mission accomplished and for the timing.
  • Coming three days after ISRO and the Defence Research and Development Organisation knocked out a satellite in a Low Earth Orbit with a direct hit.
  • It would appear that the Indian space programme stands galvanised and poised for a giant leap.

Past Achievements

  • The dexterity with which so many satellites, most of them American, were placed in three different orbits certainly showcases both the reliability and the expertise that ISRO offers.
  • This is not a new development.
  • Cost Effective-In February 2017, the PSLV-C37 placed 104 satellites, 96 of them from the U.S., in one go, a testimony to ISRO’s ability to launch satellites at a fraction of the cost that other countries incur.
  • Equally important, just as the February 2017 launch also placed the fifth of the Cartosat 2 series in orbit, an earth observation satellite with cameras that have a resolution of less than a metre, the PSLV-C45 placed EMISAT, which can, among other things, aid in electronic intelligence.

Need For formulating Space Programme

  • India is assiduously putting in place a space military architecture.
  • That is precisely why the government should articulate much more clearly the doctrinal aspects of the space programme, as well as the deterrence sought to be achieved by it.
  • India must communicate its peaceful intentions just as it showcases its capabilities, so as to contribute to a better understanding among countries it hopes to deter and thereby reduce the chances of wrong inferences being drawn in crisis situations.
  • After all, missiles are but one aspect of space warfare.
  • There are other, less visible but equally effective methods to incapacitate satellites that are being developed and are of equally serious concern.

Present global space architecture

  • There is no global regulatory regime to address the growing militarisation in space.
  • Last year, at the UN Disarmament Commission, India expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of outer space, and sought collective action to secure space-based assets.
  • In this regulatory vacuum, India has legitimate reasons to develop deterrence for the security of its space-based assets.

Way Forward

  • Equally, New Delhi must take a bigger lead in forging a global and legally binding instrument to prevent militarisation of space.
  • It is encouraging that after the ASAT test, India said it “expects to play a role in the future in the drafting of international law on prevention of an arms race in space”.
  • This is morally and pragmatically in keeping with India’s power projection.
  • Given the prohibitively expensive nature of space projects, India and other countries must utilise the increased presence in space to legitimately advance the well-being of their people.

 

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Power in space: on Mission Shakti

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Shakti, ASAT

Mains level: Strategic significance of the Mission Shakti and it impacts on domestic politics and neighbourhood


CONTEXT

India has entered an elite space club with the Defence Research and Development Organisation blowing up a satellite in a Low Earth Orbit into smithereens.

Background

  • Such Indian capability to take out moving objects has never really been in doubt.
  • the DRDO announced it as early as in 2011.
  • Indeed, India has been in the business of testing long-range missiles for years, although public attention on the space programme has been mostly on its civilian and scientific aspects.
  • The military dimension, though always latent, had not seen a verifiable demonstration as in the case of Mission Shakti, the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test.

The relevance of the test

  • Ministry of External Affairs describes it as a ‘credible deterrence’ against attacks on India’s growing number of space assets.
  • Although only three other countries, the U.S., Russia, and China, have previously demonstrated this capability, it is possible to surmise that countries with long-range missiles could do the same with equal effectiveness.
  • But India, surely, is staking a forward claim as a space weapons power.

It might propel Arms Race in the neighbourhood

  • This might lead to its none-too-friendly neighbour Pakistan into a competitive frenzy.
  • Also, in the absence of a credible threat to India’s space assets from China or any other country with Anti-Satellite missile capabilities, whether the ‘deterrence’ sought to be achieved by this test would lead to a more stable strategic security environment is not certain.

Intentions of India with regards to ASAT

  • While announcing the success of the test, was clear that India wanted to maintain peace rather than indulge in warmongering.
  • And, by targeting a low-orbit satellite, the missile test did the utmost possible to minimise space debris, which is an issue of international concern.

Concerns with the timing of test and elections

  • But, within India, the timing of the test, when the country is already in election mode, does raise concerns whether this was aimed at the domestic constituency.
  • The Election Commission is now seized of the question whether the Prime Minister might have violated the Model Code of Conduct.
  • If it does find the timing amiss, the government could be in for some serious embarrassment.

Conclusion

  • Ideally, the test should not have been a matter for a partisan political debate, but given the hypernationalist political plank of the ruling Party, Mission Shakti might have more reverberations on the ground than it has had in space.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Mission Shakti (Anti-Satellite Missile Test)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Mission Shakti, ASAT

Mains level: Strategic significance of the Mission Shakti 


News

  • In an incremental advance, India has successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test, named Mission Shakti.
  • India becomes the fourth country in the world to demonstrate the capability to shoot down satellites in orbit.
  • So far, only the United States, Russia and China have this prowess.

Mission Shakti

  • While Mission Shakti may have targeted an object in outer space, India has long developed the ability to intercept incoming missiles.
  • In 2011, a modified Prithvi missile mimicked the trajectory of a ballistic missile with a 600-km range.
  • The DRDO-developed Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Interceptor Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode.
  • The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.

What are low earth orbit satellites?

  • The Indian satellite that was shot down was a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite.
  • These are satellites roughly at an altitude of 2,000 kilometres from the earth and that’s the region where the majority of satellites are concentrated.

ASAT through history

  • ASAT is the technological capability to hit and destroy satellites in space through missiles launched from the ground.
  • ASAT weapon systems have a long history and were a product of the Cold War hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union.
  • They came back into popular currency after China conducted an anti-satellite missile test on Jan 2007.
  • The target was a Chinese weather satellite — the FY-1C – that sailed at an altitude of 865 km. (537 mi).
  • A year later, the US launched ‘Operation Burnt Frost,’ the code name to intercept and destroy a non-functioning satellite named USA-193.

Why target satellites?

  • Satellites are extremely critical infrastructure of any country these days. A large number of crucial applications are now satellite-based.
  • These include navigation systems, communication networks, broadcasting, banking systems, stock markets, weather forecasting, disaster management, and military applications etc.
  • Destroying a satellite would render these applications useless.
  • It can cripple enemy infrastructure, and bring it down on knees, without causing any threat to human lives.

Problem of space debris

  • Anything launched into the space remains in space, almost forever, unless it is specifically brought down or slowly disintegrates over decades or centuries.
  • Satellites that are past their life and are no longer required also remain in space, orbiting aimlessly in some orbit.
  • According to the NASA, there were 19,137 man-made objects in space that were large enough to be tracked.
  • These included active and inactive satellites, rockets and their parts, and other small fragments.
  • A satellite that is destroyed by a missile disintegrates into small pieces, and adds to the space debris.
  • The threat from the space debris is that it could collide with the operational satellites and render them dysfunctional.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India reassures global community after ASAT tests

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: India’s stance for peaceful use of space applications 


News

  • India assured the world that it did not violate any international treaty or understanding with the anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile testing.

A message to the world

  • While the government has conceded that India has long had ASAT capabilities, this is the country’s first demonstration to the world.
  • It has shown that it is capable of bringing down a satellite, and disrupting communication.
  • Because the test was carried out on a satellite placed in the low-earth orbit, one might question whether India can hit any satellite.
  • Targeting satellites in the higher orbits, however, is only a matter of scale of powering the rockets enough to go deeper in the space.

Defying the taboo

  • Destroying space infrastructure like satellites is also taboo in the international community just like the use of a nuclear weapon.
  • Almost every country agrees that space must not be used for wars and has spoken against weaponisation of space.
  • There are international treaties governing the use of space that mandate that outer space and celestial bodies like the Moon, must only be exploited for peaceful purposes.

Outer Space Treaty of 1967

  • The Outer Space Treaty, to which India is a signatory, prohibits countries from placing into orbit around the Earth “any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction”.
  • Among its principles, it bars states party to the treaty from placing weapons of mass destruction in Earth orbit, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space.
  • The moon and other celestial bodies shall be used by all state parties to the treaty exclusively for peaceful purposes, says the treaty.

Indian stance

  • There are at least four more multilateral treaties that deal with specific concepts agreed to in the Outer Space Treaty. None of these, however, prohibits the kind of test that India carried.
  • India believes in peaceful use of the common outer space that belongs to humanity.
  • India is not in violation of any international law or treaty to which it is a party or any national obligation.
  • The MEA said the A-SAT test was not directed against any country and that India plans to play a role in future in drafting global laws on prevention of arms race in outer space.
  • As is mandatory for any missile test, India did issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to airline authorities across the world informing them about an impending missile test.
  • MEA reiterated India’s support of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) in the Conference on Disarmament “where it has been on the agenda since 1982.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Young Scientist Programme (YUVIKA)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Young Scientists Programme

Mains level: Read the attached story 


News

Young Scientist Programme

  • ISRO has launched a special programme for School Children called “Young Scientist Programme” “YUva VIgyani KAryakram from this year.
  • The Program is primarily aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications to the younger ones with the intent of arousing their interest in the emerging areas of Space activities.
  • The residential training programme will be of around two weeks duration during summer holidays and it is proposed to select 3 students each from each State/ UTs to participate in this programme covering state, CBSE, and ICSE syllabus.
  • Those who have just finished 9th standard (in the academic year 2018-19) and waiting to join 10th standard (or those who have started 10th Std just now) will be eligible for the programme.
  • The selection will be based on the 8th Std marks.
  • Students belonging to the rural area have been given special weightage in the selection criteria.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

PSLV-C45/ Emisat Mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the payload

Mains level: Unique features of the launch 


News

  • For the sheer number of ‘firsts’ to its credit, the scheduled PSLV-C45/Emisat mission scheduled will be a memorable one for the ISRO.

PSLV-C45/Emisat

  • C-45, which is set for lift-off from the second launchpad at Sriharikota, will mark the 47th flight of the PSLV.
  • It is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements, according to the ISRO.
  • It will be released into an orbit at 749 km.
  • EMISAT is primarily based on on the famous Israeli spy satellite called SARAL or (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika), and inherits its SSB-2 bus protocol for conducting sharp electronic surveillance across the length and breadth of India.
  • The satellite would serve as the country’s roving device for detecting and gathering electronic intelligence from enemy radars across the borders as it circles the globe roughly pole to pole every 90 minutes or so.
  • For the third successive PSLV mission, the ISRO plans to reuse the rocket’s spent fourth stage or PS4 to host short experiments.

Unique Features of PSLV-C45/Emisat

  • For one, it will be ISRO’s first attempt at placing payloads in three different orbits.
  • The chief payload the 436 kg Emisat will be injected into a 749 km orbit.
  • After that, the fourth stage of the rocket will be maneuvered to a 504 km orbit for releasing 28 international satellites.
  • Once that job is over, the fourth stage will be restarted and guided to an altitude of 485 km.
  • For the next six months, this stage will serve as an orbital platform for space-based experiments. This is another first for the ISRO. Normally, the spent stage simply becomes space junk.
  • The orbital platform will also sport solar panels, which too is a first.
  • The launch vehicle itself is a new variant, designated PSLV-QL. For the first time, ISRO will be employing four XL strap-on motors on the first stage.
  • The other two experimental payloads aboard the orbital platform are the Automatic Identification System (AIS), an ISRO payload for maritime satellite applications, and the Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS), meant to assist amateur radio operators.

Foreign satellites on-board

  • As many as 28 small foreign co-passenger satellites will also travel to space with it, but to a lower orbit at 504 km.
  • They include 24 small satellites from the U.S., among them 20 which are part of previous customer Planet Labs’ earth observation constellation.
  • The other four customers are from Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO, French agency to set up maritime surveillance system

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Oceansat-3-Argos mission

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view


News

  • ISRO and its French counterpart CNES has sealed an agreement to set up a joint maritime surveillance system in the country.
  • The two nations will explore putting up a constellation of low-Earth orbiting satellites.

Oceansat-3-Argos Mission

  • The system will be augmented with the launch of Oceansat-3-Argos mission in 2020 along with a joint infrared Earth-observation satellite.
  • These will identify and track movement of ships globally – and in particular those moving in the Indian Ocean region where France has its Reunion Islands.
  • Before that, they will initially share data from their present space systems and develop new algorithms to analyse them, according to the Paris based National Centre for Space Studies.
  • They work together for the design and development of joint products and techniques, including those involving Automatic Identification System (AIS), to monitor and protect the assets in land and sea.

Other collaborations

  • The two agencies have put up two climate and ocean weather monitoring satellites Megha-Tropiques (of 2011) and SARAL-AltiKa (2013) that is considered a model.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Use of Space Technology in Agriculture Sector

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | E-technology in the aid of farmers

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various initiatives mentioned in the newscard

Mains level: Various technological measures for enhancing farm productivity


News

  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has been pro-active in using the space technology in agricultural sector. Take a look of various initiative in the aid of farmers:

Various institutional measures

  1. The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare established a Centre, called Mahalanobis National Crop Forecast Centre, in 2012.
  2. It works for operationalization of the space technology developed in the Indian Space Research Organization, for crop production forecasting.
  3. The Soil and Land Use Survey of India uses satellite data for soil resources mapping.

Use of Space Technology

The Department is using space technology for its various programmes/ areas, such as:

  • Forecasting Agricultural Output using Space, Agro-meteorology and Land-based Observations (FASAL) project
  • Coordinated programme on Horticulture Assessment and Management using geoiNformatics (CHAMAN)  project
  • National Agricultural Drought Assessment and Monitoring System (NADAMS),
  • Rice-Fallow Area Mapping and intensification, geo tagging of infrastructure and assets created under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana,

Crop Insurance        

  1. The space technology helps getting fast and unbiased information about the crop situation in the country.
  2. It provides digital data, which is amenable to various analysis. Because of its synoptic view, it provides images of the whole country in a very short duration.
  3. Hence, this data can be used for various programmes, which need information on crop type, crop area estimates, crop condition, crop damages, crop growth etc.

KISAN Project

  1. The Department has launched KISAN [C(K)rop Insurance using Space technology And geoiNformatcs] project during October 2015.
  2. The project envisaged use of high-resolution remote sensing data for optimum crop cutting experiment planning and improving yield estimation.
  3. Under this  project, pilot studies were conducted in 4 districts of 4 States viz. Haryana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
  4. The study provided many useful inputs [for smart sampling, yield estimation, optimum number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) etc.
  5. These were used to define Standard Operating Procedures  for use of satellite data in the revised guidelines of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY).

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] India’s communication satellite GSAT-31 launched successfully

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the GSAT-31

Mains level: Importance of the mission 


News

  • India’s latest communication satellite, GSAT-31 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
  • The launch vehicle Ariane 5 VA-247 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana carrying India’s GSAT-31 and Saudi Geostationary Satellite 1/Hellas Sat 4 satellites.

GSAT-31

  1. It was launched in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 35,850 km, inclined at an angle of 3.0 degree to the equator.
  2. With a lift-off mass of 2536 kg, GSAT-31 will augment the Ku-band transponder capacity in Geostationary Orbit.
  3. The satellite will provide continuity to operational services on some of the in-orbit satellites.
  4. GSAT-31 will provide DTH Television Services, connectivity to VSATs for ATM, Stock-exchange, Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) and e-governance applications.
  5. The satellite will also be used for bulk data transfer for a host of emerging telecommunication applications.
  6. It is the India’s 40th communication satellite which is configured on ISRO’s enhanced ‘I-2K Bus’, utilising the maximum “bus capabilities” of this type.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO launches Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan Mission, HSFC

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC)

  1. The HSFC, the hub of ISRO’s future manned missions, was inaugurated at ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
  2. Announced on August 15 2018, the country’s first crewed mission is set to happen by 2022, the 75th year of Independence.
  3. HSFC shall be responsible for the implementation of Gaganyaan project — which involves mission planning, development of engineering systems for crew survival in space, crew selection and training and also pursue activities for sustained human space flight missions.
  4. HSFC will take the support of ISRO centres to implement the first developmental [crewed] flight.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s first mission of 2019 to put military satellite Microsat-R in space

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the payload

Mains level: Importance of the mission 


News

  • ISRO’s first mission of 2019 will put into space a 130-kg military imaging satellite, Microsat-R.
  • C-44 will be launched from the older First Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.

 Details of Launch

  1. The satellite would be placed within 15 minutes after take-off in a polar orbit 274 km away from Earth.
  2. This is much lower than any of its civil Earth observation spacecraft, which fly pole to pole over the globe at between 400 km and 700 km.

Payload Details

Microsat-R

  1. Microsat-R and its payload come assembled from a handful of laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  2. It is meant for military use.
  3. The satellite was assembled outside and ISRO only interfaced it” with its own systems and the launch vehicle, just as it treats any customer satellite.
  4. Other details are yet to be released by ISRO.

Kalamsat

  1. Kalamsat is a communication satellite with a life span of two months.
  2. The nanosatellite is a 10cm cube weighing 1.2 kg.
  3. The satellite cost was about Rs 12 lakh Kalamsat will be the first to use the rocket’s fourth stage as an orbital platform.
  4. The fourth stage will be moved to higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments.
  5. It is named after former Indian president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and was built by an Indian high school student team, led by Rifath Sharook, an 18-year-old from the Tamil Nadu town of Pallapatti.
  6. It is the world’s lightest and first ever 3D-printed satellite.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO to launch satellite to help MHA in securing borders

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of external state & non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Satellite technology and its prospects in securing Borders


News

  • A satellite will be launched by the ISRO exclusively for the Home Ministry to help it strengthen its frontiers with Pakistan and Bangladesh among others.

Securing Borders

  1. The move is part of recommendations made by a task force on the use of space technology in improving border management which have been accepted by Home Minister.
  2. To execute the project in a time bound manner, a short, medium and long-term plan has been proposed for implementation in five years in close coordination with the ISRO and the Defence Ministry.
  3. Major recommendations of the report are to build capacity in border guarding forces to use space resources for security, operational planning and border infrastructure development.
  4. In short term, immediate needs of border guarding forces will be met by procurement of high resolution imagery and the hiring of bandwidth for communications.
  5. In mid-term, one satellite is being launched by the ISRO for exclusive use of the MHA.

Ground Network using space technology

  1. The MHA will develop ground segment and network infrastructure to share satellite resources by user agencies, develop a central archival facility for storing various imagery resources and dissemination of the same to user agencies.
  2. Deployment of the CAPF in remote areas will be also coordinated by satellite communications.
  3. IRNSS-based GPS will provide navigation facilities for operational parties in high altitude, remote and difficult borders and LWE areas.
  4. The Border Security Force has been designated as lead agency for implementation of ground segment and network infrastructure, including the establishment of the archival facility.
  5. Island development, border security, communication and navigation, Geographic Information System (GIS) and operations planning system, and border infrastructure development are the areas identified for use of space technology.

A Special Task Force

  1. The MHA has created a task force to identify areas for use of space technology in improving border management.
  2. The task force headed by Joint Secretary (Border Management), having members from the BSF, the Department of Space and BM division of the Home Ministry.

Way Forward

  1. India shares land borders with Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar.
  2. This project will strengthen island and border security and facilitate development of infrastructure in border/island areas.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] UNNATI- Unispace Nanosatellite Assembly & Training Programme of ISRO

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNNATI Programme

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view


News

UNNATI Programme

  1. It is a capacity building programme on Nanosatellite development.
  2. It is an initiative by ISRO to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first United Nations conference on the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space (UNISPACE-50).
  3. The programme provides opportunities to the participating developing countries to strengthen in assembling, integrating and testing of Nanosatellite.
  4. UNNATI programme is planned to be conducted for 3 years by U.R. Rao Satellite Centre of ISRO in 3 batches and will target to benefit officials of 45 countries.

About UNISPACE+50

  1. It is an event marking the 50th year of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
  2. It is an initiative of United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA).
  3. Three such conferences held earlier recognized the potential of space and laid the guidelines for human activities and international cooperation related to outer space. They were:
  • UNISPACE I, Vienna, 1968
  • UNISPACE II, Vienna, 1982 and
  • UNISPACE III, Vienna, 1999

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] ISRO launches Samwad with Students initiative

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SwS Initiative

Mains level: Outreach of various ISRO’s initiatives


News

  • As part of the enhanced outreach programme of ISRO, a new platform named “Samwad with Students” (SwS) was launched in Bengaluru.

Samwad with Students (SwS) Initiative

  1. Through the initiative, ISRO aims to constantly engage youngsters across India to capture their scientific temperament.
  2. The new conversation mission will inspire students cutting across schools and colleges.
  3. During the Samwad, the students are briefed about Indian space programme and their benefits to the common man.
  4. The Q&A session was followed on a series of topics ranging from rockets, satellites, Chandrayaan, Gaganyaan and various space applications.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Centre to introduce Commercial Space Activities Bill

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Governance| Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Space Activities Bill 2017

Mains level: Regulating private space activities in India


News

  • The Centre is likely to introduce a Bill to commercialise space activities in the budget session this year.

Space Activities Bill 2017

  1. It is a proposed Bill to promote and regulate the space activities of India.
  2. The Bill aims to facilitate the overall growth of space activities in India with higher order participation of public, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders.
  3. The Bill encourages the participation of non-governmental/private sector agencies in space activities in India under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.
  4. As few start-ups in India have shown interest in space activities there is an urgent need for a legal environment for orderly performance and growth of space sector.
  5. It will help the Centre establish a regulatory mechanism through an appropriate body to authorize and license space activities.

Key Propositions of the Bill

  1. The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India
  2. A non-transferable licence shall be provided by the Central Government to any person carrying out commercial space activity
  3. The Central Government will formulate the appropriate mechanism for licencing, eligibility criteria, and fees for licence.
  4. The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth) and develop more space activity plans for the country
  5. It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity
  6. It will ensure safety requirements and supervise the conduct of every space activity of India and investigate any incident or accident in connection with the operation of a space activity.
  7. It will share details about the pricing of products created by space activity and technology with any person or any agency in a prescribed manner.
  8. If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

Issues with the Bill

  1. The Bill does not address space-based activities separately.
  2. Instead, it tries to cover large swaths of the space value chain in one go.
  3. In fact, the very definition of “space activity” could throw up complications.
  4. The definition puts every space object under its ambit, meaning even hardware that carries GPS receivers could require a license.
  5. The Bill could also affect navigation services provided by companies such as Google Maps, Ola and Uber.

Navigate to this page for additional readings:

[Burning Issue] Draft Space Activity Bill 2017

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Cabinet approves Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative: Gaganyaan Programme

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan  Mission

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the Gaganyaan Programme with demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative.

Indian Human Spaceflight Initiative

  1. This will demonstrate capability of the mission to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days.
  2. A human rated GSLV Mk-lll will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission.
  3. Two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of Gaganyaan Programme.
  4. The necessary infrastructure for crew training, realization of flight systems and ground infrastructure will be established to support the Gaganyaan Programme.
  5. ISRO will collaborate extensively with National agencies, laboratories, academia and industry to accomplish the Gaganyaan Programme objectives.

Implementation Strategy and Targets

  1. Gaganyaan Programme will be a national effort in collaboration with Industry, Academia and other scientific agencies and laboratories as stake holders along with ISRO.
  2. ISRO will be responsible for realizing the flight hardware through Industry.
  3. National agencies, laboratories and Academia will participate in crew training, human life science technology development initiatives as well as design reviews.
  4. First human space flight demonstration is targeted to be completed within 40 months from the date of sanction.
  5. Prior to this, two unmanned flights in full complement will be carried out to gain confidence on the technology and mission management aspects.

Expected Outcomes

  1. The programme is expected to spur research and development within the country in niche science and technology domains.
  2. Huge potential for technology spinoffs in areas such as medicine, agriculture, industrial safety, pollution, waste management, water and food resource management etc.
  3. Human spaceflight programme will provide a unique micro-gravity platform in space for conducting experiments and test bed for future technologies.
  4. The programme is expected to give impetus to economic activities within the country in terms of employment generation, human resource development and enhanced industrial capabilities.
  5. Human Spaceflight capability will enable India to participate as a collaborating partner in future Global space exploration initiatives with long term national benefits.

Developments so far

  1. ISRO has completed the development of launch vehicle GSLV Mk-lll which has the necessary payload capability to launch a 3-member crew module in low earth orbit.
  2. ISRO has also tested the crew escape system which is an essential technology for human space flight.
  3. The aerodynamic characterization of crew module has been completed as part of GSLV Mk-lll X mission flight.
  4. Elements of life support system and Space suit also have been realized and tested.
  5. In addition, the orbital & re-entry mission and recovery operations have been flight demonstrated in Space Capsule Re-entry experiment (SRE) mission.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Reusable Rocket Technology

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)

Mains level:  Importance of RLV in ISRO missions


News

  • ISRO is working on reusable technology for reducing the cost of access to space including the development of a winged body unmanned reusable launch vehicle (RLV) for launching payloads into low earth orbits.

ISRO’s Prototype RLV

  1. ISRO has successfully developed a scaled down (1:5) technology demonstration version of Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) vehicle.
  2. It has successfully carried out the first experimental mission on May 23, 2016 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  3. In this mission, critical technologies such as autonomous navigation, guidance & control and reusable thermal protection system have been successfully demonstrated.

Challenges Ahead

  1. Development of Reusable Launch Vehicles is a technical challenge and it involves the development of many cutting edge technologies.
  2. A series of technology demonstration missions would be required to validate these technologies.
  3. In the next phase, an autonomous runway landing experiment is planned releasing the RLV-TD vehicle from a helicopter to demonstrate the runway approach and landing capability.
  4. This will be followed by an end-to-end orbital re-entry mission demonstration using a Technology Demonstration Vehicle boosted by propulsion systems.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s GSAT-7A to add more heft to Air Force

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of GSAT-7A

Mains level:  Importance of GSAT-7A in military communication


News

  • Military communication satellite GSAT-7A to be launched on December 19 is expected to add a new space-based dimension to the way Indian Air Force interlinks operates and communicates with its aircraft as they fly and with command centres on ground.

Especially for IAF

  1. Although all Indian communication satellites offer capacity to the armed forces, GSAT-7A will be the first one built primarily for the IAF.
  2. It qualitatively unify its assets and improve combined, common intelligence during operations.
  3. About 70% of it would be for the Air Force and the rest for the needs of the Army.
  4. The ground force’s Army Aviation Corps operates many helicopters, uses UAVs and will acquire fixed wing aircraft in future — all for surveillance and rescue missions.
  5. The satellite using Ku band will enable superior real time aircraft-to-aircraft communication; and between planes that are in flight and their commanders on the ground.
  6. It would enhance by many times the coverage now provided by ground communication systems such as radars and stations of the Army.
  7. Out-of-sight and remote areas where ground infrastructure and signals are difficult would get into the critical information loop.

Forward leap

  1. It will be a very important step or jump towards what we call network-centric operations or warfare.
  2. GSAT 7 will enable communication and data linking at forward places and air defence centres.
  3. Pilots can communicate much better with headquarters while they fly. Headquarters can receive data in real time.

Last mission of 2018

  1. The GSAT-7A/GSLV-F11 mission will wrap up the 2018 calendar year for the ISRO.
  2. The GSLV-F11 space vehicle will release it to an eventual geostationary orbit about 36,000 km from Earth.
  3. In 2018, ISRO launched GSAT-11 on December 5 on a European vehicle from Kourou.
  4. GSAT-29 on November 14 on its GSLV-MK III vehicle from Sriharikota, and the ill-fated GSAT-6A on March 29 from Sriharikota.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Micro satellite ExseedSAT1 launched to space

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ExseedSAT1

Mains level: Utilities of the ExseedSAT1


News

India’s first private Satellite

  1. The ‘Made in India’ micro satellite ExseedSAT1, built by a small start up is the first built in the private sector to go into space.
  2. It was launched through the Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX.
  3. So far building and launching satellites has been the exclusive preserve of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the main driver of the impressive space programme.
  4. Early this year, through its commercial arm Antrix Agency, ISRO had encouraged private participation and building of satellites.

ExseedSAT1 and its purpose

  1. The satellite is a major boost to the private radio operators in the country.
  2. The satellites of this form are called Cubesats as they are 10 cm across and 1kg weight.
  3. This satellite is freely available for all radio amateurs across the world.
  4. It is an open radio transponder that works on ham radio frequencies.
  5. The amateur radio services provide vital communication links during natural disasters.

Amateur Radio Licensing in India

  1. One has to pay just Rs 100 license from the WPC to communicate through this satellite.
  2. Amateur radio operators are granted license by a governmental regulatory authority after passing an examination on applicable regulations, electronics, radio theory, and radio operation.
  3. The Indian government has waived the need for security clearances for amateur radio, enabling a lot of students to quickly apply and obtain radio amateur license.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11 is aloft in space from Kourou

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the GSAT-11

Mains level: Utilities of the GSAT -11 to high speed Internet services in India


News

  • As most of India slept, its heaviest and most advanced communication satellite, GSAT-11, was shot to space from a European spaceport in faraway South America.
  • GSAT-11 was launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guiana.

About GSAT -11

  1. GSAT-11 is the heaviest ever built by ISRO.
  2. Its next biggest is the GSAT-17, weighing 3,477 kg and which was also launched for ISRO in June 2017 by the same European launch operator Arianespace.
  3. GSAT-11 is part of ISRO’s new family of high-throughput communication satellite (HTS) fleet that will drive the country’s Internet broadband from space to untouched areas.
  4. The broadband domain is now ruled by underground fibre and covers partial and convenient locations.

High-speed data

  1. Already up in space are two HTSs — GSAT-29 (November 14) and GSAT-19 (June 2017) — while one more is due to join them in the near future.
  2. They are all to provide high-speed Internet data services at the rate of 100 Gbps (Gigabits per second) to Indian users.
  3. ISRO has earlier said this speed would be far better than what is available in the country now.
  4. The HTSs will also be the backbone of pan-India digital or easy Internet-based programmes and services — such as Digital India, BharathNet for rural e-governance, and commercial and public sector VSAT Net service providers.
  5. According to ISRO, GSAT-11’s multiple spot beam coverage — 32 in Ku band and eight in Ka bands — will deliver an improved service of 16 gbps over the Indian region and nearby islands.

Arianespace and India

  1. Arianespace will launch two more GSATs, 31 & 30, which would be orbited from Guiana. GSAT-31 would go up first in early 2019.
  2. Since 1981 Arianespace has put to space 22 Indian communication satellites (including GSAT-11) and will launch GSAT-31 and GSAT-30 in 2019.
  3. It also holds the highest number of 590 commercial satellite launches to date worldwide.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO successfully launches hyperspectral imaging satellite HysIS

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the HysIS

Mains level:  Important missions of ISRO


News

  • The ISRO has successfully launched the PSLV-C43/HysIS mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota late.
  • This mission, the sixth one this year that will use a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), will see the launch of HysIS – India’s own earth observation satellite.
  • The satellite will be accompanied by 29 other satellites developed by various nations, including 23 from the US.

About the Launch

  1. The PSLV launcher has a total length of 39.4m and consists of a four-stage rocket, that has alternating solid and liquid stages.
  2. PSLV-C43 is a core-alone version of the launch vehicle, and the lightest one in operation. The combined weight of the satellites is 641.5kg.
  3. PSLV-C43 mission’s payload consists of the HysIS satellite, one micro-satellite and 29 nano satellites.
  4. While the 30 foreign satellites will be launched at an altitude of 504 km from the Earth’s surface, ISRO’s HysIS satellite will be launched at an altitude of 636 km.
  5. The satellite will be put into a polar synchronous orbit, which sets it in motion along the axis that runs along the Earth’s geographic North and South Pole.

HysIS

  1. HysIS stands for Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite.
  2. The objective of the probe is to provide observations within the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  3. The imaging tools will help the HysIS satellite monitor atmospheric activity and climate change, while also assisting studies of Earth’s magnetic field.
  4. These observations will have a host of applications, prime among which relate to agriculture, forestry, water management, and coastal patterns.
  5. The satellite’s payload also consists of a 730W power backup, and a 64Ah Li-ion battery.
  6. It will continue to make observations till 2023, when the mission ends.
  7. After this launch, the next big event for the Indian space organisation will be its awaited mission to the moon – Chandrayaan-2 – in early 2019.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Lunar lander faces crucial test

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Chandrayaan-2

Mains level: Very important mission of the ISRO


News

  • The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter carrying the lander and a rover is scheduled to be sent to the Moon from Sriharikota on January 31 and expected to reach on lunar surface in February 2019.
  • For that, last phase testing of various sensors on board are being carried on.

Litmus test for Chandrayaan-2

  1. The ISRO has planned to fly the sensors on an aircraft over its artificial lunar site at Challakere to see how they will function and guide the Chandrayaan-2 landing craft while descending on the lunar terrain.
  2. Among the Sensors are those that help the lander to precisely assess its height from the landing spot; decide its speed and help it to steer clear of any boulders or uneven surface.
  3. For the test, a prototype module carrying the sensors will be flown on one of ISRO’s two small aircraft.
  4. As the plane descends from around 7 km to about 1 km over the artificial terrain, the sensors must show how they will guide the soft landing of the lunar craft at the right spot, speed and position.

About Chandrayaan-2

  1. The Chandrayaan-2 weighing around 3290 kg and would orbit around the moon and perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon.
  2. India’s second mission to the Moon is a totally indigenous mission comprising of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover.
  3. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.
  4. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter.
  5. After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.
  6. The mission will carry a six-wheeled Rover which will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands.
  7. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GROWTH-India telescope’s first science observation

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about GROWTH India Telescope, Supernovae

Mains level: Utility of the Telescope


News

  • The 0.7 m GROWTH-India telescope at the Indian Astronomical Observatory located in Hanle, Ladakh, has made its first science observation which is a follow-up study of a nova explosion.

GROWTH-India Telescope

  1. The GROWTH-India telescope was commissioned six months ago soon after which it saw first light, on the night of June 12.
  2. It is part of a multi-country collaborative initiative – known as the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) – to observe transient events in the universe.
  3. The fully robotic telescope is designed to capture cosmic events occurring over relatively shorter periods of the cosmological timescale: years, days and even hours.
  4. Universities and research institutes from the US, the UK, Japan, India, Germany, Taiwan and Israel are part of the initiative.
  5. Their primary research objective is time-domain astronomy, which entails the study of explosive transients and variable sources (of light and other radiation) in the universe.

Functioning

  • The telescope is potentially fully robotic and can operate on its own, but the way these readings were taken has only partly used its potential for automation.
  • The group sitting in IIT Bombay worked through Bengaluru’s IIAP to control the telescope.
  • While the IITB-IIAP link was through regular internet connection, the one from IIAP to the telescope in Ladakh was through a satellite link.
  • A typical professional telescope has a field of about 0.1 square degrees. This telescope has a field that is five to six times larger.
  • It can ‘slew’ or move its focus from one part of the sky to another in just about 10-15 seconds and its camera can view stellar objects that are thousands to millions of light years away.

Threefold goals

  1. The GROWTH-India telescope is part of the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen.
  2. Its goals are threefold:
  • Search for explosions in the optical regime whenever LIGO group detects a Binary Neutron Star merger
  • Study nearby young supernova explosions
  • Study nearby asteroids.

Nova Observation

  1. The telescope has been taking readings since then, and this is the first ‘follow-up’ work.
  2. The celestial object was first noticed by a different group which saw the nova explosion.
  3. Though a small step in astronomy but it is a big leap, because it is the first scientific result obtained by this telescope.

Details of the Nova

  1. Novae are explosive events involving violent eruptions on the surface of white dwarf stars, leading to temporary increase in brightness of the star.
  2. Unlike a supernova, the star does not go on to die but returns to its earlier state after the explosion.
  3. This recurrent nova, named M31N-2008, has been observed to erupt several times, the most recent eruption happening in November 2018.
  4. Transient phenomena such as supernovae are important parts of time-domain astronomy which is a less-explored frontier in astronomy.
  5. Such an explosion is when the inner material of the star is thrown out. There is no other way we can actually see what is inside a star.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-29 has a perfect launch

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GSAT 29, GSLV MK III

Mains level: Importance of the Launch


News

Heaviest satellite launched on indigenous rocket

  • Amid concerns over Cyclone Gaja, the country’s heaviest satellite to be carried on board an indigenous rocket was successfully launched into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).

GSLV MK III

  1. GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  2. Two massive boosters with solid propellant constitute the first stage, the core with liquid propellant form the second stage and the cryogenic engine completes the final stage.

About GSAT 29

  1. GSAT-29 is a multiband, multi-beam communication satellite, intended to serve as test bed for several new and critical technologies.
  2. Its Ku-band and Ka-band payloads are configured to cater to the communication requirements of users including those from remote areas especially from Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern regions of India.
  3. In addition, the Q/V-Band communication payload onboard is intended to demonstrate the future high throughput satellite system technologies.
  4. Geo High Resolution Camera will carry out high resolution imaging.
  5. Optical Communication Payload will demonstrate data transmission at a very high rate through optical communication link.

Whats so special with this launch?

  1. The success of GSLV MkIII-D2 marks an important milestone in Indian space programme towards achieving self-reliance in launching heavier satellites.
  2. The success of this flight also signifies the completion of the experimental phase of GSLV Mark III.
  3. With declaring GSLV MKIII operational, Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan missions will be launched by this heavy-lifter.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Indian, US satellites find black hole that spins near maximum possible rates

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Black Hole, AstroSat

Mains level: Space related discoveries by NASA-ISRO collaboration


News

India’s AstroSat helps in finding blackhole

  • Scientists using data from India’s first dedicated astronomy satellite, AstroSat, and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found that a black hole in the binary star system 4U 1630-47 spins close to the maximum possible rate.

Details of the finding

  1. Relatively smaller black holes are exotic end states of massive stellar cores.
  2. The gravity of such a collapsing core is so strong that its entire mass is crushed into a point.
  3. This point, however, cannot be directly seen, because nothing, not even light, can escape from a region around it, thus justifying the name of the object.
  4. Surprisingly, astronomical black holes are the simplest known objects in the universe, because they can be fully characterized by only two properties, mass and spin rate.
  5. Therefore, measurements of these two properties are uniquely important to probe some extreme aspects of the universe, and the fundamental physics related to them.

Extreme aspects of the universe

  1. The scientific measurement of the spin rate of the black hole, an extremely exotic but the simplest object of the universe, comes out to be close to the maximum possible value.
  2. This is generally very important to probe some extreme aspects of the universe, and the fundamental physics (for example, the theory of gravitation) related to them.
  3. Such measurements, especially of the spin rate, are very difficult to make, and can be done only by high-quality X-ray observations in the correct state of the binary stellar system.

AstroSat-Chandra study

  1. This first cooperation of India and US using AstroSat and Chandra satellites regarding black hole studies should open up ways for future such collaborations.
  2. The SXT and the Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC) aboard the first dedicated Indian astronomy satellite AstroSat played a key role to measure the black hole spin rate, which was consistent with results from our contemporaneous Chandra satellite data.
  3. AstroSat was launched in 2015 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is the first dedicated astronomy satellite of India, and the SXT aboard AstroSat is the first Indian X-ray telescope.
  4. Apart from Japan, India is the first Asian country to build an X-ray Telescope (for example, China could not build such a telescope till now).

Back2Basics

AstroSat

  1. Astrosat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory launched on a PSLV-XL on 28 September 2015.
  2. It is a multi-wavelength astronomy mission on an IRS-class satellite into a near-Earth, equatorial orbit.
  3. On board ASTROSAT are five astronomy payloads for simultaneous multi-band observations.
  4. The assembly is placed on a rotating platform to scan the available sky once every six hours in order to locate transient X-ray sources. They are:
  • Twin 38-cm Ultraviolet Imaging Telescopes (UVIT) covering Far-UV to optical bands.
  • Large Area Xenon Proportional Counters (LAXPC) covering medium energy X-rays.
  • Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) with conical foil mirrors and X-ray CCD detector
  •  A Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride coded-mask imager (CZTI)
  •  A Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) consisting of three one-dimensional position-sensitive proportional counters with coded masks.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO & ROSCOSMOS to work together for first Indian manned mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

Context

  1. India hopes to send its first manned mission Gaganyaan in 2022.
  2. The Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be working together on the Gaganyaan mission.
  3. A MoU was inked between ISRO and the Federal Space Agency of Russia ‘ROSCOSMOS’ for joint activities in the field of Human Spaceflight Programme.

Russian Courtesy

  1. The Russian side has offered a ride to Indian astronaut a short visit to International Space Station (ISS) on board a Soyuz spacecraft for a short training mission in 2022.
  2. Russia had agreed to supply ISRO with the Rover for the second moon mission but this has not come through and now ISRO is building its own Rover.
  3. It was also decided to set up measurement data collection ground stations of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System NavIC and the Russian Navigation Satellite System GLONASS in both countries.
  4. India-Russia space cooperation was very strong, with the Soviet Union being one of the three partners who helped India get off the ground with its space programme.
  5. The China factor has been a determining factor to the extent where India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission has been delayed significantly.

Training the Astronauts

  1. There have been debates about where India should train its astronauts.
  2. The options are of course the US and Russia and both have offered India all assistance in this regard.
  3. The ISS is a habitable artificial satellite in low Earth orbit.
  4. If successful, India would be the fourth nation to send a human in space after the US, Russia and China.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO setting up launch pad for Gaganyaan mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan, SSLV

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

ISRO set to have new launch pad

  1. The ISRO is setting up a third launch pad at Sriharikota to undertake the Gaganyaan manned space flight programme, an ISRO official said on Friday.
  2. In addition, ISRO is scouting for a location on the western sea coast near Gujarat to set up another launch pad for Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV).

Why third launch pad?

  1. ISRO presently has two launch pads, which are already full.
  2. A third launch pad is being set up for the human space flight.
  3. ISRO will use its GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle, which can carry the heavier payload of the Gaganyaan, and this will take off from the new launch pad.
  4. In addition to the third launch pad at Sriharikota, ISRO is also scouting for a new location near Gujarat for the SSLV.

Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV)

  1. ISRO is developing the SSLV to offer affordable launch options for smaller satellites through Antrix, the space agency’s commercial arm.
  2. ISRO currently piggybacks smaller satellites on the PSLV and GSLV along with bigger satellites.
  3. The SSLV is expected to reduce the launch time as well as cost less to launch small satellites, which are much in demand.
  4. ISRO have evaluated several locations of which the first two SSLV launches will take place from Sriharikota. After that they will move to the new location.

Work-in-progress of Gaganyaan

  1. ISRO has begun work on the manned mission in 2004.
  2. Many of the critical technologies required for human spaceflight have already been validated through various tests.
  3. These include Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, Crew Module Atmospheric Re-Entry Experiment and Pad Abort Test.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] MHA signs MoU with ISRO to set up an Integrated Control Room for Emergency Response

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICR-ER

Mains level: All ISRO missions are vitally important. 


News

Context

  • The MHA and ISRO signed a MoU for setting up of an state-of-the-art Integrated Control Room for Emergency Response (ICR-ER) in Ministry of Home Affairs.

Integrated Control Room for Emergency Response (ICR-ER)

  1. ISRO will render its technical expertise for setting up of proposed ICR-ER whereas the project will be executed under overall supervision of MHA.
  2. The ICR-ER will cater to the requirement of Disaster Management as well as Internal Security.
  3. ICR-ER will address the requirement of receipt of information on near real-time basis, strategic level monitoring, situation awareness, command and control.
  4. This will improve preparedness and response in the diverse internal security situation and disaster related emergencies.
  5. Resultantly, it will increase the operational effectiveness and will be helpful in rendering timely response and assistance during various emergency situations.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO launches two U.K. satellites

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the launch

Mains level: All ISRO missions are vitally important. 


News

2 UK satellites launched by Antrix Corp.

  1. ISROs PSLV-C42 lifted off for the launch of two satellites from the United Kingdom – NovaSAR and S1-4 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
  2. The PSLV-C-42 is the lightest version of the PSLV flying in its core-alone version without the six strap-on motors.
  3. The two satellites, owned by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) were placed in a circular orbit around the poles, 583 km from Earth.
  4. The commercial arm of ISRO, Antrix Corporation earned more than ₹220 crore on this launch.

About the satellites

  1. The NovaSAR is a technology demonstration mission designed to test the capabilities of a new low cost S-band SAR platform.
  2. It will be used for ship detection and maritime monitoring and also flood monitoring, besides agricultural and forestry applications.
  3. The S1-4 will be used for environment monitoring, urban management, and tackling disasters.

Gearing up for Chandrayan-2

  1. Chandrayaan-2 is planned for a window from January 3 to February 16, 2019.
  2. It can be scheduled to launch anytime during that window.
  3. “Right now with the status of the rocket, the GSLV Mk-3 M1, and the present status of the satellite, we are not expecting any more delay.
  4. The other launches include the GSAT series that will provide bandwidth speeds of up to 100 Gbps per second, as part of the government’s Digital India efforts.
  5. The Cartosat and Risat satellites will also be launched within the next six months.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India, France to collaborate on Gaganyaan mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima Mission, CADMOS, MEDES.

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space.


News

Learning from French Experience

  1. CNES, the French space agency, is to share the experience it has acquired from the first French human spaceflights to Thomas Pesquet’s Proxima Mission for Gaganyaan in the field of crew transport.
  2. ISRO and CNES will be combining their expertise in fields of space medicine, astronaut health monitoring, life support, radiation protection, space debris protection and personal hygiene systems.
  3. Engineering teams have already begun discussions and it is envisioned that infrastructure such as CADMOS centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations.
  4. The MEDES space clinic will be used for training of future Indian astronauts, as well as exchange of specialist personnel.
  5. ISRO plans to conduct experiments on microgravity through its astronauts.

Other areas of cooperation

  1. French-Indian space cooperation spans in areas of climate monitoring, with a fleet of joint satellites devoted to research and operational applications, innovation, through a joint technical group tasked with inventing the launch vehicles of the future.
  2. The two also have plans to work on Mars, Venus and asteroids.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO in quest of three astronauts for manned mission

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Gaganyaan

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space


News

Quest for astronauts for 2022 mission

  1. The process for selecting three astronauts for India’s first manned space flight will begin at the earliest
  2. The astronauts would require at least three years for training.
  3. They could be from the air force or ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), or even a common man.
  4. But ISRO is preferring a pilots for the mission.
  5. The initial training will be done at the Institute for Aerospace Medicine in Bangalore.

Details of the Mission

  1. A seven-tonne orbital module consisting of a crew module with three astronauts and a service module would be sent into space in launch vehicle Mark-3.
  2. Within 16 minutes of its launch from Sriharikota, the module would reach the low-earth orbit at 400km, where it would remain for five to seven days.
  3. The astronauts would conduct micro-gravity experiments, which is the main purpose of the mission.
  4. On seventh day, the crew module would re-orient and separate itself from the service module. It would land on earth within 36 minutes, in the Arabian Sea, close to Ahmedabad.
  5. Both the crew escape system and the environment control of life support system are critical to ensure the safety of our astronauts.
  6. The mission would generate jobs for 15,000 people, of whom 13,000 would be from industries and a thousand from academic institutes.

Other Highlights

  1. Gaganyaan is set to be the cheapest human space mission ever The entire cost of the mission is estimated to be less than ₹10,000 crore.
  2. ISRO has also lined up 19 other missions till March 2019, including a small satellite launch vehicle, to be assembled in three days instead of the usual 60 days and by six people instead of 600.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO telemedicine nodes for soldiers in high-altitude areas

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Telemedicine nod by ISRO

Mains level: Facilitating healthcare in extreme battlefields via Telemedicine.


News

Telemedicine Nodes by ISRO

  1. In a major effort to improve emergency medical support to soldiers posted in high-altitude areas, especially Siachen, the Integrated Defence Staff of the Defence Ministry and the ISRO signed a MoU to set up telemedicine nodes in critical places across the country.
  2. ISRO will establish 53 more nodes in the first phase over and above the existing 20, in various establishments of the Army, Navy and Air Force across the country.

Battling Siachen’s extremity

  1. As part of this, in addition to a functioning node on the Siachen glacier, four more nodes are being established to enable medical consultation between soldiers deployed on the glacier and medical echelons in the rear.
  2. During winter months, many of the remote posts are cut off for several months because of adverse terrain and extreme weather, making emergency evacuation near impossible.
  3. Communication through satellite-enabled telemedicine nodes will be a paradigm shift in the delivery of lifesaving health care till the weather clears up and movement is possible.
  4. This joint initiative by ISRO and the Armed Forces Medical Services will transform the reach of telemedicine to soldiers, airmen and sailors in remote and isolated posts.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Chandrayaan-1 data confirms presence of ice on Moon: NASA

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Chandrayan-1

Mains level: Great Achievement of India in Space Tech.


News

Ice Deposits on Moon

  1. NASA Scientists have found frozen water deposits in the darkest and coldest parts of the Moon’s polar regions using data from the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft that was launched by India 10 years ago.
  2. The ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient, according to the study published in the journal PNAS.
  3. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole’s ice is more widely, but sparsely spread.

NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) is testimony

  1. M3, aboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, launched in 2008 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was uniquely equipped to confirm the presence of solid ice on the Moon.
  2. Scientists used data from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument to identify three specific signatures that definitively prove there is water ice at the surface of the Moon.
  3. It collected data that not only picked up the reflective properties we would expect from ice, but was also able to directly measure the distinctive way its molecules absorb infrared light, so it can differentiate between liquid water or vapour and solid ice.
  4. Most of the new-found water ice lies in the shadows of craters near the poles, where the warmest temperatures never reach above minus 156 degrees Celsius.
  5. Due to the very small tilt of the Moon’s rotation axis, sunlight never reaches these regions.

Importance of the discovery

  1. Previous observations indirectly found possible signs of surface ice at the lunar South Pole, but these could have been explained by other phenomena, such as unusually reflective lunar soil.
  2. Learning more about this ice, how it got there, and how it interacts with the larger lunar environment will be a key mission focus for NASA and commercial partners, as humans endeavour to return to and explore the Moon.
  3. This brings scope for presence of surface water accessible as a resource for future expeditions to explore and even stay on the Moon.

Back2Basics

Chandrayaan -1

  1.  It is India’s first mission to the moon.
  2. Includes a lunar orbiter and an impactor.
  3. Launched by a modified version of the PSLV-C11
  4. Launched On 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  5. It is a remote sensing satellite.
  6. Weight: 1,308 kilograms (590 kilograms initial orbit mass and 504 kilograms dry mass)
  7. Mission Period: Over a two-years
  8. Mission Cost: The estimated cost for the project is Rs. 3.86 billion.
  9. Aim: Survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The polar regions are of special interest, as they might contain ice.
  10. Payloads: The mission includes five ISRO payloads and six payloads from other international space agencies including NASA, ESA, and the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, which are being carried free of cost.
  11. With the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1, India became the sixth nation to send a mission to the moon.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] The human factor

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Gaganyaan (Human mission to space)

Mains level: India’s plan to send a human mission to space & related details


Context

Manned space mission of India

  1. The prime minister, in his Independence Day address, set a deadline to a project conceived over a decade ago, to put an Indian astronaut into orbit
  2. It is an ambitious target establishing India’s living presence in the firmament
  3. Fortunately, some of the key technology elements are already in place

Capabilities developed

  1. The problem of weight is the fundamental challenge since a crewed module weights two or three times more than the comsat and remote sensing payloads that ISRO usually launches
  2. The GSLV Mk-III or LVM-3 launch vehicle is capable of propelling a crewed module into orbit
  3. Future launches will be used to fine-tune the cryogenic engines
  4. Re-entry, a delicate operation that ISRO has limited experience in, since its payloads typically remain in space, was tested in a GSLV Mk-III flight in 2014
  5. On July 5, a simulated crew escape system for launch failures was also successfully tested
  6. India has an Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru

Further efforts required

  1. The only hardware which remains untested is the crew capsule, suitable for keeping two or three astronauts in good health for over a week
  2. Elements include systems to maintain the environment, provide food and process waste, and deal with emergencies
  3. The most important element remains neglected: The human factor
  4. An astronaut training centre was scheduled to be set up by 2012 in Bengaluru, but it appears that the first batch of astronauts will have to be trained overseas
  5. It would take years to accustom them to life in zero gravity, which has impacts on myriad behaviour, from moving around to even eating and drinking

Gains from the human mission in space

  1. Human spaceflight no longer signals national prestige, as it did during the Cold War
  2. The project would bump up the entire space industry, forcing it to meet challenges beyond the low-cost launch of payloads
  3. Certain missions are better performed by humans than by robots
  4. These remain far in the future, but the development of human capabilities in space would prime the industry well in advance
  5. The technical knowledge generated in the process would be of use much later, in ways that may not be obvious today

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Explained: How to send an Indian into space?

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Gaganyaan

Mains level: India’s aspiration for a manned mission in Space


News

Gaganyaan 2022

  1. With PM’s announcement that an Indian astronaut would go into space by 2022, ISRO has finally got a definitive timeline for a project it has been working on for the last 15 years.
  2. In 2004 the manned space mission was first endorsed by the ISRO Policy Planning Committee.
  3. There was lack of clarity on when exactly the mission would be launched, although the target initially in discussion was 2015.

Defining a manned-Mission

  1. A manned space mission is very different from all other missions that ISRO has so far completed.
  2. In terms of complexity and ambition, even the missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan) are nowhere in comparison.
  3. For a manned mission, the key distinguishing capabilities that ISRO has had to develop include the ability to bring the spacecraft back to Earth after flight, and to build a spacecraft in which astronauts can live in Earth-like conditions in space.
  4. Over the years, ISRO has successfully tested many of the technologies that are required, but many others are still to be developed and tested.

The rocket: GSLV Mk-III

  1. One of the most important requirements is the development of a launch vehicle that can carry heavy payloads into space.
  2. The spacecraft carrying human beings, called crew module, is likely to weigh in excess of 5 to 6 tonnes.
  3. ISRO successfully tested GSLV Mk-III, now called LVM-3 (Launch Vehicle Mark-3).
  4. It successfully launched the first developmental flight of LVM-3, which carried the GSAT-19 satellite into space.
  5. The LVM-3 is the declared launch vehicle for taking the manned crew module into space as it will help for sending up heavier and heavier payloads.

Reentry & recovery tech

  1. The satellites normally launched by ISRO, like those for communication or remote sensing, are meant to remain in space, even when their life is over.
  2. Any manned spacecraft, however, needs to come back. This involves mastering of the highly complicated and dangerous reentry and recovery ability.
  3. While reentering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft needs to withstand very high temperatures, in excess of several thousand degrees, which is created due to friction.
  4. Also, the spacecraft needs to reenter the atmosphere at a very precise speed and angle, and even the slightest deviation could end in disaster.
  5. The first successful experimental flight of GSLV Mk-III also involved the successful testing of an experimental crew module that came back to Earth after being taken to an altitude of 126 km into space.
  6. Called the Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE), the spacecraft reentered the atmosphere at about 80 km altitude and landed in the sea near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Crew Escape System

  1. This is a crucial safety technology, involving an emergency escape mechanism for the astronauts in case of a faulty launch.
  2. The mechanism ensures the crew module gets an advance warning of anything going wrong with the rocket, and pulls it away to a safe distance, after which it can be landed either on sea or on land with the help of attached parachutes.
  3. ISRO has completed the first successful flight of the crew escape system (the recent Pad Abort Test).

Life support

  1. The Environmental Control & Life Support System (ECLSS) is meant to ensure that conditions inside the crew module are suitable for humans to live comfortably.
  2. The inside of the crew module is a twin-walled sealed structure that will recreate Earth-like conditions for the astronauts.
  3. It would be designed to carry two or three astronauts.
  4. The ECLSS maintains a steady cabin pressure and air composition, removes carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, controls temperature and humidity, and manages parameters like fire detection and suppression, food and water management, and emergency support.
  5. While the layout and design of the ECLSS has been finalised, its many individual components and systems are in the process of being tested.
  6. The design and configuration of the inside of the crew module have also been finalised. Ground testing will have to be followed by tests in the space orbit while simulating zero gravity and deep vacuum.

Astronaut training

  1. While ISRO still plans to set up a permanent facility, the selected candidates for the first manned mission will most likely train at a foreign facility.
  2. Candidates will need to train for at least two years in living in zero gravity and dealing with a variety of unexpected experiences of living in space.
  3. Some training would also be imparted at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine of the Indian Air Force at Bengaluru.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO set to launch its TV channel

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Vikram Sarabhai, ISRO TV

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view.


News

Promoting scientific temper

  1. The ISRO is all set for a year-long Vikram Sarabhai centenary celebration starting in August 2019 to honour the visionary scientist and its legendary founding father.
  2. In a few months’ time, it plans to roll out a dedicated ISRO TV channel showcasing space applications, developments and science issues, targeting young viewers and people in remote areas in their language.

Satellite launches now open to public

  1. As it strengthens its public outreach, ISRO will shortly start allowing the public to watch satellite launches from its Sriharikota launch centre.
  2. Selected students of classes 8 to 10 will be the trained at ISRO for a month and taken to various laboratories and centres across the country.

Vikram Sarabhai- the legend

  1. Sarabhai, the architect of the Indian space programme, the first ISRO chief and renowned cosmic ray scientist, was born on August 12, 1919.
  2. ISRO’s tributes to Sarabhai start with naming the first Indian moon landing spacecraft of the Chandrayaan-2 mission ‘Vikram’.
  3. Sarabhai was only 28 when he sowed the seeds of a space agency around the late 1940s and 1950s.

 

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Indian telescope spots distant radio galaxy

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Radio galaxy, Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope

Mains level: India’s increasing role in space probes


Most distant radio galaxy found

  1. Astronomers have used an Indian telescope to discover the most distant radio galaxy ever known, located at a distance of 12 billion light-years
  2. The galaxy is from a time when the universe was only 7% of its current age
  3. The galaxy is perceived as it looked when the universe was only a billion years old
  4. It was found using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune

About GMRT

  1. GMRT is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45-metre diameter
  2. It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics

Radio galaxies

  1. Radio galaxies are very rare objects in the universe
  2. They are colossal galaxies with a supermassive black hole in their centre that actively accretes gas and dust from its surroundings
  3. This activity initiates the launch of high-energy jet streams, which are capable of accelerating charged particles around the supermassive black hole to almost the speed of light
  4. The discovery of such galaxies at extremely large distances is important for our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Upgraded Vikas engine will soon boost ISRO’s rockets

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Vikas Engine

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view.


News

Adding more thrust

  1. The Vikas engine will improve the payload capability of PSLV, GSLV and GSLV Mk-III launch vehicles.
  2. The space agency has improved the thrust of the Vikas engine that powers all of them.

Main beneficiary: GSLV Mk III

  1. The main beneficiary of the high-thrust Vikas engine is said to be the heavy-lifting GSLV-Mark III launcher, which ISRO expects will now put 4,000-kg satellites to space.
  2. This would be the third Mk-III and the first working one to be designated Mk III Mission-1 or M1.
  3. The first MkIII of June 2017 started with a 3,200-kg satellite and the second one is being readied for lifting a 3,500-kg spacecraft.
  4. The Vikas engine is used in the second stage of the light lifting PSLV; the second stage and the four add-on stages of the medium-lift GSLV; and the twin-engine core liquid stage of Mk-III.

Soon to be replaced

  1. ISRO will phase out Vikas by replacing it first in Mk-III with a cleaner and safer semi-cryogenic engine.
  2. The semi-cryo engine is ready for trial; its stage has just been approved

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s first ‘pad abort’ test, critical for future human space mission, successful

The crew module successfully lands.

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Pad Abort Test and its particulars

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view. It is also a landmark success for future manned missions of ISRO.


News

What is Crew Escape (Pad Abort) System?

  1. The Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure to quickly pull the crew module — the astronaut cabin — along with astronauts out to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.
  2. It is held for the safe recovery of the crew module in case of any exigency at the launch pad.

ISRO’s success for future “Manned Mission”

  1. The first ‘pad abort’ test critical for a future human space mission was conducted successfully by ISRO.
  2. The test was conducted at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
  3. Describing it as a major technology demonstrator the space agency said the PAT (pad abort test) is the first in a series of tests to qualify a crew escape system technology of a manned mission in the future.
  4. The Crew Escape System is an emergency escape measure to quickly pull the crew module — the astronaut cabin — along with astronauts out to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.

Particulars of the test

  1. The Crew Escape System with a simulated 6-tonne crew module lifted off from its pad.
  2. It was propelled on its own seven specially made complex in-built rockets.
  3. In the next four-odd minutes, it reached a height of 2.7 km and curved down into the Bay of Bengal on parachutes.
  4. It landed in the sea at a distance of 2.9 km from the launch center.
  5. The rockets are solid-fuel powered and specially designed for quickly ejecting the crew module and astronauts to a safe distance without exceeding the safe G-levels.
  6. Nearly 300 sensors recorded various functional aspects of the mission during the test flight.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India prepares quest to find a trillion-dollar nuclear fuel on the Moon

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology| Awareness in the fields of Space

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Helium-3

Mains level: Read the attached story


News

India’s hunt for Helium-3 Isotope on Moon

  1. India’s space program wants to go to the south side of the moon.
  2. India is planning to study the potential for mining a source of waste-free nuclear energy that could be worth trillions of dollars.
  3. The mission would solidify India’s place among the fleet of explorers racing to the moon, Mars and beyond for scientific, commercial or military gains.
  4. The rover landing is one step in an envisioned series for ISRO that includes putting a space station in orbit and, potentially, an Indian crew on the moon.
  5. The government has yet to set a timeframe.

Helium-3

  1. Solar winds have bombarded the moon with immense quantities of helium-3 because it’s not protected by a magnetic field like Earth is.
  2. The presence of helium-3 was confirmed in moon samples returned by the Apollo missions, and Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt, a geologist who walked on the moon in December 1972, is an avid proponent of mining helium-3.
  3. That isotope is limited on Earth yet so abundant on the moon that it theoretically could meet global energy demands for 250 years if harnessed.
  4. It is thought that this isotope could provide safer nuclear energy in a fusion reactor since it is not radioactive and would not produce dangerous waste products.
  5. That’s enough to meet the world’s current energy demands for at least two, and possibly as many as five centuries.
  6. An estimated value of helium-3 is about $5 billion a ton, meaning 250,000 tons would be worth in the trillions of dollars.

Initiative by other countries

  1. China is the only country to put a lander and rover on the moon this century with its Chang’e 3 mission in 2013. The nation plans to return later this year by sending a probe to the unexplored far side.
  2. In the U.S., President Donald Trump signed a directive calling for astronauts to return to the moon, and NASA’s proposed $19 billion budget this fiscal year calls for launching a lunar orbiter by the early 2020s.
  3. The US equivalent of NASA will launch a rover in October to explore virgin territory on the lunar surface and analyze crust samples for signs of water and helium-3.

ISRO’s budget more economic than any other

  1. ISRO’s estimated budget is less than a 10th of US – about $1.7 billion – as accomplishing feats on the cheap has been a hallmark of the agency since the 1960s.
  2. The upcoming mission will cost about $125 million – or less.

What is India’s mission

  1. The Chandrayaan-1 craft, launched in October 2008, completed more than 3,400 orbits and ejected a probe that discovered molecules of water in the surface for the first time.
  2. The upcoming launch of Chandrayaan-2 includes an orbiter, lander and a rectangular rover.
  3. The six-wheeled vehicle, powered by solar energy, will collect information for at least 14 days and cover an area with a 400-meter radius.
  4. The rover will send images to the lander, and the lander will transmit those back to ISRO for analysis.
  5. A primary objective, though, is to search for deposits of helium-3.

Major Hurdles

  1. To be sure, there are numerous obstacles to overcome before the material can be used – including the logistics of collection and delivery back to Earth and building fusion power plants to convert the material into energy.
  2. Those costs will be very high.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India to teach satellite tech to students from abroad

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life, Achievements of Indians in science & technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNSSP, UNISPACE+50

Mains level: The newscard highlights the prestige of India at the global level for its unique satellite building methodology.


 News

ISRO to teach foreign students

  1. India has thrown open its satellite-building expertise to engineering graduates chosen from other countries.
  2. Starting this year, and for three years, a total of 90 qualifying engineers from various countries will be taught to build and test three small satellites each year.
  3. ISRO’s Bengaluru-based U.R. Rao Satellite Centre (URSC) — until recently known as ISAC — will train the overseas students in November and December this year through 2020.
  4. India is also ready to launch the small satellites built during the programme if they are good.

Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme

  1. Indian start-ups and participants at the meeting shared the details of the training proposal, called the Indo-UN Small Satellites Programme (UNSSP).
  2. The capacity-building programme was India’s contribution to the world in response to a request that the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs had made to space-faring nations last year.
  3. The countries are marking the 50th year of the first UN Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space — called UNISPACE+50.
  4. Three such conferences held earlier recognized the potential of space and laid the guidelines for human activities and international cooperation related to outer space.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO offers battery technology to firms

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Lithium-ion battery

Mains level: Transfer of Lithium-ion know-how will help electric vehicle start ups under FAME India Scheme


News

Transfer of Lithium-ion know-how to help electric vehicle start ups

  1. An RFQ (request for quotation) issued by ISRO invites multiple qualified companies or start-ups to use its power storage technology to produce a range of Li-ion cells for many purposes, mainly EVs or electric vehicles.
  2. ISRO’s rocket sciences node Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre will transfer its in-house technology non-exclusively to each qualified production agency for a one-time fee of ₹1 crore.
  3. Currently, the batteries are imported mostly from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  4. To drive the Indian EV dream of the coming decades, national think tank NITI Aayog has also earlier called for setting up local production

Back2Basics

FAME India Scheme

  1. Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles in India [FAME] scheme was started with effect from 1st April 2015
  2. It has the objective to support hybrid/electric vehicles market development and Manufacturing eco-system
  3. The scheme has 4 focus areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure
  4. The FAME India Scheme is aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments i.e. 2 Wheeler, 3 Wheeler Auto, Passenger 4 Wheeler Vehicle, Light Commercial Vehicles and Buses
  5. The scheme covers Hybrid & Electric technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug-in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO’s PRL scientists discover an ‘EPIC’ planet

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PRL, PARAS Spectograph, EPIC

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view. 


News

India in elite planet-spotting club

  1. A team from the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, has spotted for the first time a distant planet six times bigger than Earth and revolving around a Sun-like star about 600 light years away.
  2. EPIC 211945201b (or K2-236b) is the name given to the planet by the discovery team. The host star is named EPIC 211945201 or K2-236.
  3. With this discovery India has joined a handful of countries which have discovered planets around stars,” PRL’s parent ISRO has announced.
  4. The discovery was made using a PRL-designed spectrograph, PARAS, to measure and confirm the mass of the new planet.

About EPIC

  1. EPIC was found circling very close to the Sun-like star, going around it once in about 19.5 days and unlikely to be inhabitable because of its high surface temperature of around 600°C.
  2. The team found the planet to be smaller in size than Saturn and bigger than Neptune.
  3. Its mass is about 27 times Earth’s and six times that of Earth at radius.
  4. The scientists estimate that over 60% of its mass could be made up of heavy elements like ice, silicates and iron.

Spectrograph Studies at PRL

  1. The spectrograph is the first of its kind in the country which can measure the mass of a planet going around a star.
  2. Very few such spectrographs exist around the world (mostly in the USA and in the Europe) that can do such precise measurements.
  3. They measured the mass of the planet using the indigenously designed PARAS (PRL Advance Radial-velocity Abu-sky Search).
  4. This spectrograph is integrated with the 1.2-metre telescope located at PRL’s Gurushikhar Observatory in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO making green propellant

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hydrazine Rocket Fuel (conventional), HAN, LPSC

Mains level: The newscard talks about making Space technology green with new indigenous propulsion fuel


News

Environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft

  1. Scientists at the ISRO have reported progress in the development of an environment-friendly propellant to power satellites and spacecraft
  2. The effort is to replace the conventional hydrazine rocket fuel, a highly toxic and carcinogenic chemical, with a greener propellant for future missions
  3. Due to its high-performance characteristics, hydrazine has dominated the space industry as the choice of propellant for over six decades, despite its environmental and health hazards and the challenges faced in its manufacturing, storage, ground handling and transportation
  4. Initial tests by a research team at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) here have shown promising results in the formulation and associated tests of a propellant blend based on hydroxyl-ammonium nitrate (HAN)

Particulars of HAN

  1. The LPSC team has formulated the HAN-based monopropellant
  2. A monopropellant is a chemical propulsion fuel which does not require a separate oxidizer. It is used extensively in satellite thrusters for orbital correction and orientation control
  3. The in-house formulation consists of HAN, ammonium nitrate, methanol and water
  4. Methanol was added to reduce combustion instability, the choice of ammonium nitrate was dictated by its capacity to control the burn rate and lower the freezing point of the propellant

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] IRNSS-1I 

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC)’ system, IRNSS-1I

Mains level: India’s strides in space sector


News:

  • IRNSS-1I is the latest member of the ‘Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC)’ system.
  • ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C41 successfully launched the 1,425 kg IRNSS-1I Navigation Satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
  • It will replace IRNSS-1A and join the constellation of seven satellites.
  • It will have L5 and S-band navigation payload with rubidium atomic clocks.
  • It will be placed in a sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit and at its closest point will be 284 km above the Earth and at its farthest will be 20,650 km above the Earth.
  • Like all other IRNSS satellites, IRNSS-1I will also carry two payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload.

Background

  • There are currently seven Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System ( ‘Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC)’ system) satellites (1A to 1G) in orbit.
  • A, B, F, G are placed in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth and they orbit along with the Earth.
  • The remaining three C, D, E, are located in geostationary orbit-they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth along the equator and orbit along with the Earth.
  • The launch of IRNSS-1I will be the ninth navigational satellite launch under the project which has seen seven successful launches and one unsuccessful launch.

Uses

  • IRNSS will assist in terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones, precise timing, mapping and geodetic data capture, a terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers, visual and voice navigation for drivers and riders
  • Navigation satellite signal receivers which will give positioning and weather alerts to fishermen in deep sea and more such devices will be fitted in boats in Tamil Nadu and Kerala
  • This will help in sending alerts to fishermen vital information at times of cyclones

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

IRNSS-1I up in orbit, completes navigation fleet

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Atomic clock, NavIC, etc.

Mains level: Importance of the navigation satellites.


News

Navigation satellite IRNSS-1I

  1. It was successfully launched early morning today
  2. It is eighth in series and completes the first phase of the Indian regional navigation constellation
  3. Although 1I is the ninth to be launched in the NavIC navigation fleet, it counts as the eighth as the previous one, 1H, was lost in a faulty launch last August
  4. They were planned as backups but became necessary after the three imported rubidium atomic clocks on 1A failed while in orbit

Importance of the satellites

  1. The navigation satellites, dubbed India’s own GPS, are meant for giving precise information of position, navigation and time of objects or people
  2. They have a civilian and a restricted military/security applications
  3. Built for a ten-year job in space, 1I is expected to be ready for work in about a month after routine orbit manoeuvres and tests

Back2basics

 Rubidium atomic clocks 

  1. A rubidium standard or rubidium atomic clock is a frequency standard in which a specified hyperfine transition of electrons in rubidium-87 atoms is used to control the output frequency
  2. It is the most inexpensive, compact, and widely produced atomic clock, used to control the frequency of television stations, cell phone base stations, in test equipment, and global navigation satellite systems like GPS
  3. Commercial rubidium clocks are less accurate than cesium atomic clocks, which serve as primary frequency standards, so the rubidium clock is a secondary frequency standard
  4. However, rubidium fountains are currently being developed that are even more stable than caesium fountain clocks

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

  1. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) with an operational name of NAVIC (which stands for NAVigation with Indian Constellation) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system, that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services
  2. It covers India and a region extending 1,500 km (930 mi) around it, with plans for further extension
  3. The system at-present consist of a constellation of 7 satellites, with two additional satellites on ground as stand-by
  4. The constellation is already in orbit and system was expected to be operational from early 2018 after a system check
  5. NAVIC will provide two levels of service, the ‘standard positioning service’ will be open for civilian use, and a ‘restricted service’ (an encrypted one) for authorized users (including military). Due to the failures of one of the satellites and its replacement no new dates for operational status has been set

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Isro to launch navigation satellite

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).

Mains level: Importance of the NavIC.


News

PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I Mission

  1. It is scheduled to be launched on Thursday
  2. IRNSS-1I is expected to replace IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven navigation satellites, that was rendered ineffective after its three rubidium atomic clocks failed
  3. The seven satellites are part of the NavIC navigation satellite constellation

It is a replacement satellite

  1. The launch will be Isro’s second attempt at sending a replacement satellite
  2. The previous mission of a PSLV carrying IRNSS-1H in August last year failed after the heat shield covering the satellite failed to separate

Back2basics

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

  1. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) with an operational name of NAVIC (which also stands for NAVigation with Indian Constellation) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system, that provides accurate real-time positioning and timing services
  2. It covers India and a region extending 1,500 km (930 mi) around it, with plans for further extension
  3. The system at-present consist of a constellation of 6 satellites, with one becoming redundant
  4. There are two additional satellites on ground as stand-by for enhanced operation
  5. The constellation is already in orbit and system was expected to be operational from early 2018 after a system check
  6. NAVIC will provide two levels of service, the ‘standard positioning service’ will be open for civilian use, and a ‘restricted service’ (an encrypted one) for authorized users (including military)
  7. Due to the failures of one of the satellites and its replacement no new dates for operational status has been set

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[op-ed snap] Launch lessons

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the GSAT-6A

Mains level: The newscard discusses possible reason behind the failure of the recent GSLV launch.


News

Disappointment for India’s space programme

  1. The loss of communication between the ground station and the Indian Space Research Organisation’s latest satellite after its launch on March 29 is deeply disappointing
  2. ISRO’s mission was aimed to place the communication satellite, GSAT-6A, in space
  3. The last word has not been said on the mission, as ISRO officials continue to try to establish contact with the satellite

What went wrong?

  1. The GSAT-6A was first raised to the elliptical orbit marked by the following parameters: its perigee, or point of closest approach to Earth, was 5,054 km; and its apogee, or point of farthest approach, was 36,412 km
  2. This was followed up by a second orbit-raising operation on March 31
  3. It was after this and during the third such operation that the ground station lost contact with the satellite
  4. This is why it is being conjectured that the failure occurred because of a flaw outside the launch vehicle, the GSLV, perhaps from a short circuit or power glitch within the satellite itself

No mission is a total failure

  1. In complex scientific feats such as ISRO’s projects, there is no mission so devoid of a learning aspect to it that it is deemed a total failure

ISRO should be more open

  1. ISRO should be open about the specific learning points from this launch exercise
  2. Space science is exciting not just for the experts, but to many outside the field
  3. Therefore, it is important that the agency presents itself more openly to the world

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Isro loses contact with GSAT-6A satellite in rare glitch

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GSAT-6A and GSAT-F08.

Mains level: Particulars of the GSAT-6A


News

Confirmation from the ISRO

  1. ISRO has confirmed that it had lost communication with GSAT-6A satellite, three days after its launch
  2. But Efforts are underway to establish the link with the satellite
  3. GSLV-F08(carrying the GSAT-6A) was the 12th flight of GSLV and Sixth flight with indigenous Cryogenic Stage

Particulars of the GSAT-6A

  1. The 2,140-kg GSAT-6A is a high powered S-band communication satellite which would help improve mobile communications to handheld devices, as well as network management techniques that would have been useful in satellite- based mobile communication applications
  2. The technology was aimed at helping the armed forces among other users by improving communications in remote areas
  3. It had a mission life of 10 years

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] GSLV Successfully Launches GSAT-6A Satellite

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GSLV, GSAT

Mains level: ISRO space missions


News

  • India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08) successfully launched GSAT-6A Satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  • This is the fifth consecutive success achieved by GSLV carrying indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage.
  • In its oval-shaped GTO, GSAT-6A is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.4 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,692.5 km with an orbital inclination of 20.64 deg with respect to the equator

Back2Basics

  • GSAT-6A is a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide mobile communication services through multibeam coverage.  For this, it is equipped with S and C band transponders.
  • The orbit of GSAT-6A will be raised from its present GTO to the final circular Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in stages

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-6A gives India bigger eye in the sky

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the GSAT-6A, Vikas engine, etc.

Mains level: Complement this newscard with GSAT-6A to give armed forces a shot in the arm


News

Mission: GSAT-6A 

  1. The ISRO has successfully placed a communication satellite GSAT-6A in a geosynchronous transfer orbit
  2. It was carried on board the GSLV F-08 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre
  3. The satellite will be placed at a height of 36,000 km in a geostationary orbit, and the antenna will be unfurled in the coming days

Particulars of the GSAT-6A

  1. The GSAT-6A is a communication satellite that incorporates the high-thrust Vikas engine
  2. It will complement the GSAT-6, which is already in orbit
  3. These two satellites combined will provide platforms for development of advanced technologies such as the unfurlable antenna, hand-held devices, and ground networks
  4. The GSAT-6A’s antenna has a diameter of six metres — it can be unfurled and opened like an umbrella once it reaches its prescribed orbit

Back2basics

Vikas (rocket engine)

  1. The Vikas (an acronym for VIKram Ambalal Sarabhai) is a family of liquid fuelled rocket engines conceptualized and designed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in the 1970s
  2. The design was based on the licensed version of the Viking engine with the chemical pressurisation system
  3. The early production Vikas engines used some imported French components which were later replaced by domestically produced equivalents
  4. It is used in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) series of expendable launch vehicles for space launch use
  5. Vikas engine is used to power the second stage PSLV, boosters and second stage of GSLV Mark I and II and the first stage of GSLV Mark III. The propellant loading for Vikas engine in PSLV, GSLV Mark I and II is 40 tons, while in GSLV Mark III it is 55 tons

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

GSAT-6A to give armed forces a shot in the arm

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: GSAT-6A, S-band communications satellite

Mains level: Various achievements of ISRO


GSAT-6A ready to launch

  1. GSAT-6A, the second predominantly S-band communications satellite, is set to be launched from Sriharikota
  2. The 2,000-kg-class 6A will complement GSAT-6
  3. It is designated for the use of the Armed Forces and will not add any transponder capacity for general uses

Special feature of GSAT-6A

  1. A special feature of the GSAT-6A is its 6-meter-wide umbrella-like antenna, which will be unfurled in once it is in space
  2. The antenna is thrice as broad as the antennas generally used in ISRO satellites
  3. It will enable mobile communication from anywhere via hand-held ground terminals and won’t require large ground stations

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Chandrayaan-2 launch postponed to October: ISRO chief

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Chandrayaan-2

Mains level: Very important mission of the ISRO


News

Launch postponed to October

  1. The launch of India’s second lunar mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’, slated for next month, has been postponed to October
  2. Why: the experts have suggested some tests

Background

  1. Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, in-charge of the Department of Space, had in February 16 last said the lunar mission of the ISRO will be launched in April

Particulars of the Chandrayaan-2

  1. India’s second mission to the Moon is a totally indigenous mission comprising of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover
  2. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter
  3. After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover
  4. The mission will carry a six-wheeled Rover which will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands
  5. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil
  6. The Chandrayaan-2 weighing around 3290 kg and would orbit around the moon and perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

BHEL to make Li ion cells with ISRO technology

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | indigenization of technology & developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ISRO, BHEL, space grade lithium ion cells

Mains level: Developments in Indian space sector


Technology transfer agreement between BHEL and ISRO

  1. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a technology transfer agreement with Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd for the manufacture of space grade lithium ion cells
  2. These will be used for the space programme and other national requirements

Li-ion batteries use

  1. The Li-ion batteries power various applications on satellites and launch vehicles
  2. Currently, BHEL assembles and tests Li-ion batteries using imported cells
  3. Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthapuram has developed the technology to produce space grade Li-ion cells

Back2Basics

Li-ion batteries

  1. A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery (abbreviated as LIB) is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the negative electrode to the positive electrode during discharge and back when charging
  2. Li-ion batteries use an intercalated lithium compound as one electrode material, compared to the metallic lithium used in a non-rechargeable lithium battery
  3. The electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes are the constituent components of a lithium-ion battery cell
  4. Generally, the negative electrode of a conventional lithium-ion cell is made from carbon
  5. The positive electrode is a metal oxide, and the electrolyte is a lithium salt in an organic solvent
  6. The electrochemical roles of the electrodes reverse between anode and cathode, depending on the direction of current flow through the cell

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Contest is off but TeamIndus to still go to moon

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Google Lunar XPRIZE, TeamIndus, Antrix Corporation

Mains level: India’s achievements in space technology


Private Indian mission to the moon

  1. Google Lunar XPRIZE (GLXP) organizer has called off its 10-year-old challenge
  2. Space startup TeamIndus had planned to send a lander-rover to the moon on an ISRO launcher

About the mission

  1. Space startup TeamIndus and Antrix Corporation had come together to send private Indian mission to moon along with Japanese partner Hakuto
  2. They were to develop an unmanned lunar rover

Back2Basics

Antrix Corporation

  1. Antrix Corporation Limited is the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  2. Its objective is to promote the ISRO’s products, services, and technologies
  3. It was incorporated as a private limited company owned by the Indian government on 28 September 1992
  4. The company is a Public Sector Undertaking (PSU), wholly owned by the Government of India
  5. It is administered by the Department of Space (DoS)

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO successfully launches 42nd PSLV

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the payload

Mains level: All missions of the ISRO are important from examination point of view. Also, it is the first successful launch after the recent failure. 


News

What is the news?

  1. The ISRO has launched its 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota
  2. The PSLV-C40 is to place 31 satellites, originating from seven countries, across two orbits

Particulars of the Cartosat-2

  1. The Cartosat-2 imagery will be used to develop various land and geographical information system applications, weighs 710 kg and was to be placed in a circular polar sun synchronous orbit 505 km from Earth
  2. The satellite’s design life is five years
  3. The 30 co-passenger satellites together weigh 613 kg

Technology demonstrator

  1. It was the two other Indian satellites in the C40’s payload that generated the most excitement
    (A microsatellite and a Nanosatellite)
  2. Both were called technology demonstrators, indicating significant strides towards miniaturisation
  3. The Indian Nano Satellite – 1C, is the third in its series; its predecessors were part of the PSLV-C37 launch of February 2017
  4. The INS-1C, whose mission life is six months, carries the Miniature Multispectral Technology Demonstration payload from the Space Applications Centre
  5. Why important: With a capability to carry up to 3 kg of payload and a total satellite mass of 11 kg, it offers immense opportunities for future use

Background

  1. The ISRO had seen its previous launch of August 31, 2017 being recorded as a failure
  2. The heat shield of PSLV-C39 did not separate, resulting in satellite separation occurring within the shield
  3. It was only the second total failure of the PSLV in nearly 24 years: the PSLV-D1, in its maiden flight, had failed on September 20, 1993

Back2basics

Microsatellite

  1. The term “microsatellite” or “microsat” is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 10 and 100 kg (22 and 220 lb)
  2. However, this is not an official convention and sometimes those terms can refer to satellites larger than that, or smaller than that (e.g., 1–50 kg (2.2–110.2 lb))
  3. Sometimes designs or proposed designs from some satellites of these types have microsatellites working together or in a formation
  4. The generic term “small satellite” or “smallsat” is also sometimes used, as is “satlet”

Nanosatellite

  1. The term “nanosatellite” or “nanosat” is usually applied to the name of an artificial satellite with a wet mass between 1 and 10 kg (2.2–22 lb)
  2. Again designs and proposed designs of these types usually have multiple nanosatellites working together or in formation (sometimes the term “swarm” is applied)
  3. Some designs require a larger “mother” satellite for communication with ground controllers or for launching and docking with nanosatellites

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

PSLV all set to ferry 31 satellites tomorrow

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Payloads

Mains level: It is an important mission after the last failure


News

Particulars of the payloads and mission

  1. It is the PSLV-C40 flight mission
  2. The upcoming 42nd PSLV will carry a total of 31 satellites including 28 paid riders
  3. The main payload, the 710-kg Cartosat-2F, is the seventh in the Cartosat-2 series and is built to work for five years
  4. Said to have a high, sub-metre resolution, it is unofficially said to serve military surveillance purposes

Foreign Customers

  1. ISRO is putting up two of its own small satellites — a 100 kg micro satellite and the 11-kg nano satellite INS-1C. There are also 28 smaller customers
  2. The commercial satellites include three 100-kg class micro satellites and 25 nanosats (1-10 kg) from Canada, Finland, France, Korea the U.K. and the U.S.

Background

  1. A successful flight of PSLV-C40 is expected to put behind the Indian light lift rocket’s freak failure on August 31
  2. 39 successes later, PSLV launch fails

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO mulls launching 65 satellites for a slew of uses

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ISAC

Mains level: Future goals set by the ISRO


News

Ambitious plan of the ISRO

  1. ISRO has set itself an ambitious to-do list of making and launching around 65 satellites
  2. They are planned to be realised over the period from 2017 to 2021

New goals by the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC)

  1. According to the ISAC, the new goal puts ISAC’s annual asking rate at around 18 satellites a year: ISAC would now need to come out with three satellites every two months
  2. ISAC’s 45-year tally peaked in 2017 with a record 12 spacecraft, recently

Back2basics

Indian Space Research Organisation Satellite Centre(ISAC)

  1. The ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) is the leading centre of ISRO for design, development, fabrication and testing of all Indian made satellites. It was established in the year of 1972 as Indian Scientific Satellite Project (ISSP) in Peenya Industrial Estates of Bengaluru
  2. Situated in Vimanapura Post of Bangalore, Karnataka, the centre has produced more than 90 satellites including the INSAT series, the IRS series, as well as the GSAT communication satellites
  3. Organisations under the umbrella of ISAC include the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS) and the ISRO Satellite Integration and Testing Establishment (ISITE)
  4. Mylswamy Annadurai is the current director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC)

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

[pib] Ahmedabad Space Application Centre developing new ‘Remote’ Sensor camera

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Remote Sensor camera

Mains level: Indigenization of technology & developing new technology


News

  • Ahmedabad Space Application Centre is all set to develop a new advanced hi-tech “Remote Sensor” camera with a capacity to capture images/pictures from a height of over 300 km
  • The new “Remote Sensor Camera” will be fully indigenous, living up to “Make in India” concept and may be available by early next year. The new gadget will be an improvement on the existing application used for infrastructure development works, soil management and even security-related tasks

Various firsts this year

  • In the current year itself, a number of “firsts” were achieved including the launching of South Asia Satellite and world record of the launching of 104 satellites at a single launch

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO developing a compact launcher for small satellites

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: It will increase Space Market Share of India in the world market.


News

ISRO’s compact launcher for small satellites

  1. ISRO is planning for a low-cost small satellite launcher
  2. Preliminary work to design and develop an ambitious small launch vehicle has already began

What is so special about this launcher?

  1. Its design will enable a handful of engineers to assemble it within a week
  2. And the launcher should be able to put satellites of up to 500-600 kg in orbits close to the Earth
  3. The development cost would be kept low at a few crore as the new launcher’s requirement of advanced electronics is considerably lower
  4. It could also tremendously cut the launch fee that customers would have to pay

Easy to assemble

  1. Today, it takes 300-plus engineers and about 40 days to assemble a PSLV
  2. A small launcher that can be got up perhaps in three days by a small team would make a big difference in the market as well as to the launch provider
  3. For one, satellite operators need not wait one or two years to launch their spacecraft
  4. Secondly, a ride on small launchers could even be a ninth or tenth of the present cost

Small satellites business is rising

  1. Globally, the small satellites market is booming as they are used for various applications
  2. operators and private players are developing small launchers to capture the market at a much lower cost

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India calls for stronger treaties to protect space assets

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: SAARC satellite

Mains level: India’s achievements in space technology


News

Expanding space cooperation

  1. Stressing international cooperation in space as in all domains of global commons, India called for  strengthening global treaties to protect space-based assets and prevent militarization of outer space

Over 200 treaties

  1. India had more than 200 international cooperation agreements with more than 40 countries and international organizations
  2. The maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-I, is a “successful example of international cooperation with international payloads”
  3. In May, ISRO launched the communications satellite GSAT-9, also called SAARC satellite, meant to provide connectivity and disaster support to countries in South Asia
  4. India is party to all the legally binding instruments on outer space

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

‘PSLV built by domestic industry by 2020’

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: This step will increase private sector’s involvement in Indian Space industry.


News

ISRO’s plan for domestic industry

  1. ISRO is preparing to hand over the entire gamut of launch vehicle manufacture to domestic industry by 2020
  2. Efforts are on to set up a consortium of companies for the purpose

Current contribution of the Private Industry in ISRO’s missions

  1. Until now, public and private industries have only supplied devices, components and sub-systems for ISRO’s launch vehicles, including the PSLV and the GSLV
  2. ISRO already has a partnership with private industry to produce satellites
  3. The IRNSS-1H communication satellite aboard the ill-fated PSLV C-39 was the first to be produced by a consortium of six companies
  4. ISRO had a partnership with about 500 domestic industries for the supply of various components and devices

Expectations of the ISRO from the private industries

  1. ISRO stressed on the need for industry to reduce the manufacturing and material cost without compromising on quality to bring down the launch cost
  2. ISRO, he said, had tightened tolerance to error following the failure of the PSLV- C39 mission

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Scientists map lunar water with data from Chandrayaan-1

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Chandrayan-1

Mains level: Great Achievement of India in Space Tech.


News

 Journal: Science Advance

  1. Scientists, using data from an instrument which flew aboard India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, have created the first map of water trapped in the uppermost layer of the moon’s soil
  2. This study is published in the journal Science Advances
  3. Scientists from the U.S. used a new calibration of data taken from NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper to quantify how much water is present on a global scale
  4. This Moon Mineralogy Mapper flew aboard Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in 2008

Back2basics

Chandrayan-1

  1.  It is India’s first mission to the moon.
  2. Includes a lunar orbiter and an impactor.
  3. Launched by a modified version of the PSLV-C11
  4. Launched On 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
  5. It is a remote sensing satellite
  6. Weight: 1,308 kilograms (590 kilograms initial orbit mass and 504 kilograms dry mass)
  7. Mission Period: Over a two-years
  8. Mission Cost: The estimated cost for the project is Rs. 3.86 billion.
  9. Aim: Survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and 3-dimensional topography. The polar regions are of special interest, as they might contain ice.
  10. Payloads: The mission includes five ISRO payloads and six payloads from other international space agencies including NASA, ESA, and the Bulgarian Aerospace Agency, which are being carried free of cost.
  11. With the successful launch of Chandrayaan-1, India became the sixth nation to send a mission to the moon.

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

39 successes later, PSLV launch fails

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the PSLV and IRNSS

Mains level: It is important to know the reasons behind such failures.


News

Mission Failure

  1. The PSLV-C39 mission carrying the replacement navigation satellite IRNSS-1H failed 
  2. This was the PSLV’s first failure after 39 continuously successful launches and only the second such instance since 1993
  3. The failure may somewhat dent the image that the PSLV commands in the global small-to-medium launchers market

Reason behind the failure

  1. According to the ISRO, the spacecraft was stuck in the heat shield in the last and fourth stage, it did not release into space as planned

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO opens up satellite making to industry

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the ISAC

Mains level: It is an important step for making a self-reliance satellite industry in India. Also, it can be seen as an example of ‘Make in India.’


News

ISRO Invites Applications

  1. ISRO has allowed domestic entities that can give it up to 18 spacecraft a year starting mid to late 2018
  2. ISRO has invited single or combined industries to apply for this opportunity, if they are found technically suitable

More about the decision

  1. ISAC would sign a 3 contract with the finalists, train, handhold and supervise their teams in making its range of satellites at its facility
  2. ISRO has made four categories of spacecraft: communication, remote sensing, navigation and scientific missions
  3. And in three sizes of 1,000 kg to 4,000 kg

Possible Benefits of this step

  1. Right now, the manpower of ISAC/ISRO is not adequate for meeting both the increased load of making more satellites and also for the R&D that we need for future satellites
  2. The present bid to outsource our AIT(assembly, integration and testing) will help ISRO re-deploy our human resources effectively and focus on R&D
  3. It would also aid self-reliance by way of an independent Indian satellite industry

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO to develop full-fledged earth observation satellite

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics of Earth observation satellite

Mains level: Important scientific development. This is first-its-kind satellite in India


News

New Earth Observation Satellite

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to launch a earth observation (EO) satellite which is called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite or HySIS
  2. It will use a critical chip which was developed by ISRO itself
  3. But there is no specific time-frame yet for its launch

Features of the satellite

  1. The new chip to be fitted in the satellite is technically called an “optical imaging detector array”
  2. The planned satellite could see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above ground

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO set to launch satellite with corrected clocks

SourceImage

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Concepts behind the functioning of Atomic Clocks

Mains level: An important step in the direction of self-sufficiency in GPS Technology


News

Replacement Satellite

  1.  ISRO will soon launch a replacement navigation satellite fitted with corrected atomic clocks
  2. Why: Due to the malfunctioning of the IRNSS-1A because of its atomic clock
  3. This satellite will be a part of NAViC

What is NAViC?

  1.  NAViC or Navigation Indian Constellation, is India’s own GPS-like system to give accurate information about location and time of persons or objects
  2. It is same as the older U.S. Global Positioning System or Russia’s GLONASS

Is IRNSS-1A not working?

  1. The troubled 1A can still send low-powered messages and weather data that are useful to fishermen
  2. But it cannot be used in NAViC due to its malfunctioning clock

Back2basics

Atomic Clocks

  1. An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electron transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element
  2. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

PSLV will lock heavy weight Cartosat-2 into orbit today

Note4students:

Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights

The newscard has important information on the PSLV-C38 launch.

Prelims Level: Make note of PSLV, CARTOSAT-2

Mains Level: Not Mains worthy


Context:

  1. ISRO is all set for the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carrying the Cartosat-2 series satellite, along with 30 co-passenger satellites
  2. The PSLV- C38 launch will take place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota

30 other satellites:

  1. The 31 satellites, together weighing 955 kg, will be lifted into a 505-km polar sun synchronous orbit
  2. This will be the second highest number of satellites to be launched by ISRO using a single rocket

Back2Basics:

What is Cartosat-2?

  1. Cartosat-2 is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit
  2. It is the primary payload aboard PSLV-C38 and will be the first to be injected into orbit, 16 minutes from lift-off
  3. The imagery provided by the satellite will be used for cartographic applications, coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, water distribution, land use mapping and geographical information system applications
  4. Cartosat-2 is designed for a lifespan of five years

 

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

What ails the Navigation Indian Constellation

Note4Students:

The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. NavIC was one such attempt to make India self reliant in GPS systems as during kargil war USA had denied access to its GPS system to India which led to development of NavIC. Important news card as it contains major details regarding NavIC. Bookmark it.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: NavIC, GPS, Rubidium and cesium clocks. (Also look at properties of these elements, position in periodic table etc.)

Mains level: NavIC and various other missions of ISRO. (There was a question in Mains 2016 on this topic)


News:

  1. The clocks on the first satellite, IRNSS-1A had failed in June 2016, affecting the accuracy of the “GPS”
  2. ISRO is trying to rectify this problem

What is NavIC?

  1. Navigation Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent Indian satellite-based positioning system for critical national applications
  2. NavIC consists of a constellation of seven satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit and four in a
    geosynchronous
  3. Its purpose is to provide ‘reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and neighbourhood’
  4. According to ISRO, the applications of IRNSS are: terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking
    and fleet management, terrestrial navigation for hikers and travellers, disaster management, integration with
    mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture and visual and voice navigation for drivers

What’s the problem?

  1. NavIC relies on rubidium clocks as navigation requires the most accurate clocks
  2. This January, the ISRO confirmed that the clocks on the first satellite, IRNSS-1A had failed in June 2016
  3. Though six of the satellites are working fine, the one faulty one means the “GPS” isn’t working as accurately as
    it ought to be

How’s it being fixed? ISRO was trying to revive the clocks on 1A. It is also readying one of the two backup navigation satellites to replace it in space in the second half of this year

Future prospects:

  1. Rubidium clocks were the previous standard in accurate clocks and most organisations, that need precise time estimates, need cesium clocks
  2. Future clocks on such satellites, each with a lifespan of 10 years, will host such clocks

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

India successfully fires heaviest launch vehicle

Note4students:

Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics,
nano-technology, bio-technology

The launch of India’s heaviest launch vehicle is an event of great historical importance and significance.

Following things are important from UPSC perspective: Prelims

Prelims Level: The name of the spacecraft and its details are very important for Prelims. Mains Level: The

Mains Level: The newscard also talks about the business opportunities, which should be studied for Mains


Context:

  1. India leapfrogged into a select group of nations having their own indigenous cryogenic engine technology
  2. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its heaviest launch vehicle, GSLV
    MkIII-D1
  3. It placed the country’s heaviest satellite till date, GSAT-19, into a precise orbit

What is GSAT-19?

  1. GSAT-19 is a communication satelliteIt is expected to enhance India’s communication infrastructure and was
    placed into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  2. The satellite weighs 3,136 kgThis successful launch will enable India to launch 4-tonne class satellites from India

A Russian design:

  1. ISRO has used indigenous cryogenic engines on earlier GSLV flights which were modelled mainly on Russian
    design
  2. On this GSLV, no technological element was borrowed or adapted from any other space organization

First time success- The cryo stage is a complex technologyIt is a world record that while making it for the first time, there were no serious test failures or problems

Business opportunities

  1. The GSAT-19 carries a Ka/Ku-band high throughput communication transponders
  2. It also carries a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload
  3. GRASP monitors and studies the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites
    and their electronic components
  4. The spacecraft will open up a lot of new vistas in the field of Internet connectivity, broadband connectivity

What is more in the pipeline?

  1. Two launches are coming up, which will happen from Ariane in French Guiana
  2. Work is on to launch two approved missions- Aditya-L1 and Chandrayaan-II– in the next two years
  3. The ‘Aditya-L1’ will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system

Back2basics:

A quick go through: Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III

  1. It is a launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  2. It is intended to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and as a launcher for an Indian crew vehicle
  3. The GSLV-III features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO starts landing tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission

  1. Event: ISRO has started a series of ground and aerial tests linked to the critical Moon landing of Chandrayaan-2
  2. How: It has artificially created close to ten craters to simulate the lunar terrain and test the Lander’s sensors
  3. Where: ISRO, along with a host of other scientific and strategic agencies, owns vast land for its future missions at Challakere, in a ‘Science City’
  4. When: Chandrayaan-2 is tentatively set for late 2017 or early 2018 and includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites- III

  1. Trend: Going small was in tune with the global trend and a logical extension of what we are already doing since a decade
  2. The ISRO’s own remote-sensing satellites have been getting progressively smaller, from close to 1,000 kg to the recent 370-kg Scatsat-1 to monitor ocean weather
  3. New ideas: Student satellite projects come up with interesting and relevant experiments and need to be encouraged

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites- II

  1. Nano: It also plans to build 10 kg or smaller nano and micro satellites using a 100 kg IMS-1 platform
  2. This will offer ready and reliable micro and nano satellite ‘shells’ on which the IITs, universities and even start-ups can put their experimental payloads or devices
  3. IMS stands for 80 kg Indian Mini Satellite, launched in 2008
  4. Saving time: The idea is to encourage users to save time to import a suitable small satellite and instead focus on test novel concepts on the satellites

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites

  1. ISRO has also firmed up a strategy to a make increasingly smaller satellites for earth observation and scientific, experimental and other missions
  2. This comes, even as it moves into making heavier communication spacecraft weighing 4,000 kg to 6,000 kg
  3. The plan for small satellites is two-pronged and can range from 10 kg ‘micros’ to 300 kg-500 kg ‘minis’
  4. Mini: A series of 350-kg ‘mini’ satellites, probably with high resolution cameras and innovative features, will be built in the near future for the ISRO’s own remote-sensing uses
  5. They will be built on the decade-old IMS-2 platform on which the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) has earlier brought out half a dozen EO (earth observation) satellites

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

ISRO gears up for critical crew rescue test

  1. ISRO is gearing up to conduct a critical crew bailout test, known as ‘Pad Abort’
  2. Aim: To see how fast and effectively the crew module of an intended space mission could punch out from the spacecraft in the event of an emergency
  3. It forms part of a gamut of critical technologies being developed by ISRO as it awaits the nod from the government for the ambitious ‘human in space’ programme

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Communication satellite GSAT-18 successfully launched

  1. Communication satellite GSAT-18 was successfully launched from the European launcher Ariane-5 VA-231 of Kourou in French Guiana
  2. The GSAT-18, built by ISRO, aims at providing telecommunications services for the country by strengthening ISRO’s current fleet of 14 operational telecommunication satellites

ISRO Missions and Discoveries

Why do we need mega launchers?

  1. The high-power local capability is needed as Indian communication satellites move towards 5,000-plus kg and more from 2017
  2. By then, ISRO plans to build and launch its heaviest 5,700-kg GSAT-11 spacecraft, although on a European Ariane rocket for a big fee
  3. Its present rockets can lift only up to 2,000 kg to this orbit