October 13, 2011
India Launches Monsoon-Tracking Research Satellite
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully launched a monsoon and climate change research satellite from a facility in the southern part of the country, various media outlets are reporting.
The Megha-Tropiques satellite, which was a collaboration with the French space agency CNES, was one of a quartet of spacecraft launched on Wednesday, the news agency reported. The satellite, which was released from its booster rocket some 539 miles above the planet's surface, will study changes in climate and atmosphere in Earth's tropical regions.
"The launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has been a grand success. All the four satellites were injected into their orbits very precisely as planned," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told AFP reporters, with project co-leader G. Raju adding that the satellite should remain in orbit for five years and would begin transmitting data in three weeks or less.
The CNES website says that the launch occurred at India's Sriharikota launch base, and that Megha-Tropiques would be "the first satellite to study the atmosphere and weather phenomena in intertropical regions, which are still poorly understood."
According to BBC News, "The Megha-Tropiques has been put on a low-inclination orbit around the equator (between 23 degrees North and South), meaning it will pass over India almost 12 times a day" while providing meteorologists with "fresh insight into how water moves through the atmosphere to produce the intense weather associated with monsoons."
The satellite platform was constructed by India, and ISRO also provided the rocket used in the launch while France contributed instruments to the liftoff, the British media outlet also reported. The information it collects will be shared with meteorological organizations in the U.S. and throughout Europe, they added.
The two space agencies began collaborating in 1997, according to CNES.
"India, which aims to send its first manned flight into space in 2016, first staked a claim for a share of the lucrative commercial satellite-launch market by sending up an Italian orbiter in 2007," AFP reporters said. "The country sees its space exploration program as an achievement that underlines its emergence as a major world economy."
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