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  • The observation of the Earth from space is usually termed as remote sensing and satellites used for the purpose are known as Remote Sensing Satellites.
  • The RS is a ‘Space-based’ earth observation system. It is a technique used for collecting information of any object on earth from about 900 km above the surface of earth, through the measurement of Electro Magnetic Spectrum of the sun that is reflected, scattered & remitted by objects on earth’s surface.
  • The Most of the RSS are polar, sun-synchronous satellites in low earth orbits (LEO) that is their latitudinal position above the earth is 1000, their movement is in pole to pole direction & their angular appearance in relation to sun is fixed.
  • Such an orbit is chosen because it enables the satellite to take earth’s pictures always at a fixed angle of illumination by the sun.
  • The RSS has the ability to provide a synoptic view of large areas for systematic and speedy collection & distribution of metrology, geology, geography, agriculture date with in a short time period.
  • Thus, the RSS provides key tips to planning & forms an integral part of resource management for the exploitation of renewable & natural resources of the earth.
  • Indian Remote sensing or IRS class satellites are a series of Earth Observation satellites, built, launched and maintained by ISRO.
  • These are the world’s biggest constellation comprising IRS-1B, -IC, -ID, -P3 —P4 (Ocean sat). The IRS programme commissioned with the launch of IRS-1A in 1988 presently includes twelve satellites (TES — RISAT 1 in the table given below) that continue to provide imageries in a variety of spatial resolutions from better than one metre ranging upto 500 metres.


The Space borne remote sensing via satellites constitute a far greater improvement over ground based or even air-borne surveys because,

  • It is cheaper& much speedier.
  • It is more accurate &reliable.
  • It is a multi dimensional survey tool whereby more than one type of surveys can be simultaneously carried out for a wide variety of application.

The remote sensing in India is an umbrella of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS). Remote Sensing has been applied in many diverse fields in India which are:


  • In the field of agriculture the RSS has helped in assessing the net crop area, Crop production forecasting, Movement of locust, Flood warning, damage assessments.
  • On the bases of data provided by “IRS-1A & 1B” planning commission has divided the country into 15 Agro-climatic regions for better agriculture production. REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES (RSS)

Natural resource Management:

  • In the field of natural resource management, it has helped in accurately assessing the Land use and land cover mapping, mineral prospecting, forest resource surveys, Survey of forest cover distribution, monitoring of forest-fires etc.
  • National Wasteland Maps have been prepared, identifying the types and extent of wastelands at village level, for 237 selected districts spread all over the country.
  • These maps have been provided to the Department of Wasteland Development and district authorities for taking up Wasteland reclamation measures.

Disaster Management & Meteorology:

  • The RSS finds its applications in the early warning mechanism for cyclones, the short term weather forecasting, and the warning, Monitoring as well as the Impact assessment for droughts and floods.

Sustainable Development:

  • A major application of IRS data is the Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (IMSD) which was initiated in 1992 to generate locale-specific action plans for sustainable development of natural resources, in terms of productivity, quality of environment and ecological set-up.
  • The locale-specific prescriptions are generated under IMSD using data from IRS satellites and collateral socio-economic data in collaboration with the State Remote Sensing Application Centre, Universities, private entrepreneurs and non­governmental organizations.

Urban studies:

  • With the availability of high resolution panchromatic data from IRS-IC and IRS-ID, many new applications in urban studies have been carried out, such as urban sprawl, structural plans for cities, guide maps for Delhi, Bangalore etc. REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES (RSS)


  • The equipment on board IRS systems of satellites can act as a spy in the sky. They can pick up images of troop movements as well as deployments by the enemy.
  • Remote Sensing has also helped to track a lost River bed in the Thar Desert of country which could be used for extending drinking H2O facility to population.



  • SARAL or Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa is a cooperative altimetry technology mission of ISRO and CNES (Space Agency of France).
  • The ISRO built satellite with payloads modules (ALTIKA altimeter, DORIS, Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) and ARGOS-3 (Advanced Research and Global Observation Satellite) data collection system provided CNES will be launched by Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket into the Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
  • ISRO will be responsible for the platform, launch, and operations of the spacecraft. The payloads of SARAL are accommodated in the Indian Mini Satellite-2 bus, which is built by ISRO. SARAL was successfully launched on 25 February 2013.
  • SARAL data products will be useful for operational as well as research user communities in many fields like Marine meteorology and sea state forecasting; Operational oceanography; Seasonal forecasting; Climate monitoring; Ocean, earth system and climate research; Continental ice studies; Protection of biodiversity; Management and protection of marine ecosystem; Environmental monitoring; Improvement of maritime security.


  • A microwave remote sensing satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operating in C-band and having a 6 x 2 meter planar active array antenna based on trans-receiver module architecture.
  • SAR is an all weather-imaging sensor capable of taking images in cloudy and snow covered regions and also both during day and night.
  • ISRO currently operates two Radar Imaging Satellites. RISAT-1 was launched from Sriharikota Spaceport on 26 April 2012 onboard a PSLV C19.
  • RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions. India also operates RISAT-2 which was launched in 2009 onboard PSLV C12 and acquired from Israel.


  • It is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite is the seventeenth satellite in the IRS satellite series to be built by the ISRO.
  • It was launched along with the Algerian satellite, one nano satellite each from Canada and Switzerland, and StudSat, a pico satellite, on 12 July 2010 by PSLV rocket from Sriharikota.
  • The satellite carries a panchromatic (PAN) camera capable of taking black-and­-white pictures in the visible region of electromagnetic spectrum.
  • The highly agile CARTOSAT-2B can be steered up to 26 degrees along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently.


  • It is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite is the thirteenth satellite in the IRS satellite series to be built, launched and maintained by the ISRO.
  • It was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle – C9 on April 28, 2008 along with the 87 kg Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) and eight nano research satellites belonging to research facilities in Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.
  • This satellite is a Ministry of Defence mission for the Government of India. It is a dedicated satellite for the Indian Armed Forces which is in the process of establishing an Aerospace Command.
  • The satellite carries a panchromatic (PAN) camera capable of taking black-and-­white pictures in the visible region of electromagnetic spectrum.
  • The highly agile Cartosat-2A can be steered up to 45 degrees along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently.


  • It is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit. The satellite was built, launched and maintained by the ISRO.
  • Weighing around 680 kg at launch, its applications will mainly be towards cartography in India. It was launched by the PSLV on January 10, 2007.
  • Cartosat-2 carries a state-of-the-art panchromatic (PAN) camera that take black and white pictures of the earth in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Cartosat-2 is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery.
  • The data from the satellite will be used for detailed mapping and other cartographic applications at cadastral level, urban and rural infrastructure development and management, as well as applications in Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS).


  • It is a follow on mission to Resourcesat-1 and the eighteenth Remote Sensing satellite built by ISRO. It is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by RESOURCESAT-1, and to provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage as well.
  • Compared to Resourcesat-1, LISS-4 multispectral swath has been enhanced from 23 km to 70 km based on user needs. Suitable changes including miniaturization in payload electronics have been incorporated in Resourcesat-2.
  • Resourcesat-2 along with Youthsat and X-Sat (Singapore) was launched on PSLV-C16 on 20 April 2011.
  • The satellite contains 3 multispectral cameras onboard:
  1. Advanced Wide-Field Sensor (AWiFSS) with 56 meter spatial resolution,
  2. the Linear Imaging Self-Scanning Sensor (LISS-Ill) with 23.5 meter spatial resolution and
  3. LISS-IV Camera with 5.8 meter spatial resolution.


  • India has a vast coast line of around 750 kilometres and the oceans around supports vast resources.
  • The scientific studies of the Indian oceans have normally been carried out from the observations made from ships and buoys, which have several restrictions in terms of space and capability to provide repetitive and wide area of coverage.
  • Oceansat-1 is the first state-of-the-art indigenous satellite for the ocean applications developed by India. It is placed in a polar sun synchronous circular orbit.
  • IRS-P4 is carrying two payloads on board, viz., Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) and Multi-frequency Scanning Microwave Radiometer (MSMR). OCM is the state-of-the-art solid state camera using charge Coupled Devices as detectors.

OCM provides the highest spatial resolution compared to any other contemporary ocean satellites.

Based on such information provided by OCM, various applications for scientific and operational use in the following areas:

  • Measurement of phytoplankton and assessment of their distribution both spatially and temporally; detection of algal blooms and their dynamism.
  • Identification of potential fishery zones, as well as upwelling and other high productivity regions optimal for fish production.
  • Delineation of ocean currents and eddies.

MSMR is a passive microwave radiometer operating in 4 frequencies. It has the advantage of penetrating clouds and hence has all weather capability. REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES (RSS)

Using MSMR data, geo-physical parameters such as atmospheric water vapour, Sea Surface Temperature, precipitation over oceans, ocean surface winds, cloud liquid water etc. can be derived.

Various applications using the geo-physical parameters derived from MSMR are as follows:

  • Inputs to medium range weather forecasting.
  • Studies related to mixed layer depth, air sea exchanges, ocean circulation models etc.

A satellite positioning system (SPS) has been included in IRS-P4 to provide better location accuracy of the order of 50 m. and Sorghum in twelve states Oil seeds in 9 States and cotton crop in 5 states.

These crop statistics are meant for agricultural planning purpose.


  • It is India’s 11th RSS to be launched into space. It finds its applications in the field of Cartography.
  • It was one of the most expensive satellites launched so far by ISRO.
  • Its resolution is about 2.5 meters and includes two state of the art cameras which have stereo — imaging capability i.e. cameras take pictures of the same object at slightly different angles the integration of these two images provides a 3- dimensional effect to the imageries produced by cartosat-1. This helps the ISRO to estimate the depth & distance more accurately.
  • The imageries provided by the Cartosat-1 are used in town planning, laying new roads, constructing canals, disaster assess, water resource management etc.
  • It can also be used for generating digital terrain models. This will be of great help to the Armed forces too, as the Cartosat-1 can also be used as a platform for waging electronic warfare.
  • It can jam the electronic signals of enemy’s radar and that of the other equipments carried by missiles, aircraft & other reconnaissance equipment.
  • It can also act as a spy satellite, as it has a high-resolution power. It can scan the entire world in one year time.


Following are the remote sensing satellites planned by ISRO to be launched next strengthening the fleet of IRS satellites and widening their applications:


  • A follow on to Resourcesat-2, it will carry more advanced LISS-III-WS (Wide Swath) Sensor having similar swath and revisit capability as Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS), thus overcoming any spatial resolution limitation of AWiFS.
  • Satellite would also carry Atmospheric Correction Sensor (ACS) for quantitative interpretation and geophysical parameter retrieval. REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES (RSS)


  • A continuation of Cartosat series , it will have a resolution 30 cm and 6 km swath suitable for cadastre and infrastructure mapping and analysis.
  • It would also enhance disaster monitoring and damage assessment.


  • Oceasat-3 would carry Thermal IR Sensor, 12 channel Ocean Colour Monitor, Scatterometer and Passive Microwave Radiometer.
  • IR Sensor and Ocean Colour Monitor would be used in the analysis for operational Potential Fishing Zones. Satellite is mainly for Ocean biology and sea state applications. REMOTE SENSING SATELLITES (RSS)


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