ISRO's Upcoming Launch: India's Latest Weather Satellite Set for Tomorrow, Explore its Features and Significance
ISRO's Upcoming Launch: India's Latest Weather Satellite Set for Tomorrow, Explore its Features and Significance

New Delhi: India is set to launch its latest weather satellite on Saturday, utilizing a rocket that has earned the nickname "naughty boy" within the Indian space agency. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), slated to carry the INSAT-3DS satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 5:35 pm on Saturday, has been referred to as the "naughty boy" due to its subpar performance in six out of its 15 flights - resulting in a failure rate of 40 percent. Former ISRO chairman had bestowed this nickname due to the rocket's inconsistent track record. While its last launch on May 29, 2023, was successful, the one prior to that on August 12, 2021, ended in failure.

In contrast, the GSLV's larger counterpart, the Launch Vehicle Mark-3 or the 'Bahubali rocket', has completed seven successful flights, boasting a 100 percent success rate. Meanwhile, ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), considered the workhorse of the agency, has achieved an impressive 95 percent success rate, with only three failures in its 60 launches. The GSLV stands at a height of 51.7 meters, approximately a quarter of the height of the Statue of Unity. It has a liftoff mass of 420 tonnes and is equipped with an indigenously developed cryogenic engine. ISRO intends to retire the GSLV after a few more launches.

The INSAT-3DS satellite being launched on Saturday holds significant importance as it will enhance India's weather and climate monitoring capabilities. Designed as a third-generation upgraded meteorological satellite, INSAT-3DS weighs 2,274 kg and has been constructed at a cost of approximately ₹ 480 crore, fully funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, as confirmed by ISRO. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Department of Space now prioritizes missions that receive full support from user agencies.

Better Weather Forecasts, Saving Lives

The new weather monitoring satellite is specifically designed for advanced meteorological observations and land and ocean surface monitoring for weather forecasting and disaster management, according to ISRO officials. India has been leveraging its weather satellites to provide increasingly accurate forecasts, often leading to life-saving interventions.

Dr. M Ravichandran, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, highlighted the transformative impact of Indian weather satellites, particularly in cyclone forecasting. He noted that before the advent of Indian weather satellites, cyclones in the Bay of Bengal caused fatalities in the hundreds of thousands. However, with India's dedicated constellation of satellites, cyclone forecasts have become remarkably accurate, significantly reducing the death toll.

India currently operates three operational weather satellites: INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR, and OceanSat. Dr. Ashim Kumar Mitra, project director of the Satellite Meteorology Division at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), emphasized the necessity of replacing INSAT-3D, which has been in service since 2013 and is nearing the end of its operational life.

Dr. Mitra explained the role of weather satellites in providing data for forecasts, underscoring their importance in numerical weather prediction models and convective event monitoring, especially in a tropical country like India. Additionally, the new satellite features a search-and-rescue transponder that aids in detecting distress signals from ships and individuals in remote areas, facilitating timely rescue operations. Given India's reliance on weather satellites for critical forecasting and monitoring, investments in these technologies have yielded substantial dividends, according to Mr. Ravichandran. As India awaits the GSLV launch, the performance of the "naughty boy" rocket remains a subject of intrigue, with its track record raising questions about its reliability.

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