India, US to study the seas together, with Indian satellite

Washington, Nov 19 ( Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit here next week, Indian and US space agencies have signed a letter of intent (LoI) for collaboration on India’s Oceansat-2 satellite for studying the seas.

The LoI signed between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) promotes opportunity for receiving Oceansat-2 data by the US agencies for research, education and activities of public good, the Indian embassy said.

The LoI was signed here Wednesday by R.R. Navalgund, director, Space Application Centre for ISRO; Michael H Freilich, director Earth Science Division, for NASA; and Mary E Kicza, assistant administrator for Satellite and Information Science for NOAA.

The LoI was signed on the sidelines of the Sixth Plenary Session of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) here with India’s Deputy Chief of Mission Arun K Singh and Counsellor (Space) Deviprasad Karnik from the Indian Embassy and representatives of NOAA and NASA participating in the event.

Launched by ISRO Sep 23 using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Shriharikota, India’s spaceport, the oceanographic satellite Oceansat-2 carries three instruments, the eight band Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) to study ocean biology, Ku band pencil beam Scatterometer to measure sea surface wind vectors and Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmosphere (ROSA).

While the first two instruments are built by ISRO, ROSA has been contributed by the Italian Space Agency. All three payloads have been switched on and are working satisfactorily, providing valuable data.

The joint activities would include calibration, validation, algorithm development, scientific investigations and operational applications.

While ocean colour data is envisaged to be useful for fisheries, monitoring of harmful algae and in studying global carbon cycles, wind vectors from scatterometer would be useful in facilitating better weather forecasting.

This initiative is under the overall Joint Civil Space Cooperation agreement signed earlier by India and the US.