In what is possibly the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) last flight, India inserted Oceansat (ISRO’s earth-observation satellite) and eight nanosatellites into low-earth orbit (LEO) for ISRO clients on November 26, 2022. This mission is termed PSLV-C54/Earth Observation Satellite-6 (EOS-6). The launch vehicle used was the polar satellite launch vehicle extra-large (PSLV-XL). It was PSLV’s 56th launch.
What is LEO and why is it important?
LEO is usually considered to be at a height of less than 1,000 km, as stated by the European Space Agency. This orbit is important as it provides good signal coverage, mapping and communications, and higher accuracy for telecommunications. Broadband connectivity, high-resolution photography, and faster relay times for data flow between systems are a few more added advantages of satellites in LEO.
Launch Vehicle and Mission Description
PSLV – the launch system for EOS-6 – is India’s 320-tonne, third-generation launch vehicle with four stages that can launch multiple satellites and has multi-orbit capabilities, as per ISRO. The Indian space agency described the mission’s aims as monitoring ocean colour and wind, improving applications and developing/improving algorithms.
The French Consulate General in Bengaluru has stated that Argos “also happens to be the latest surveillance systems of the environment and geo-location, not only allowing the movement of wild animals but also to record physiological data, environmental data from ships and boats.”
Past Successful Missions of ISRO
Chandrayan-1 in 2008 and the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in 2013 are among ISRO’s most successful launches. Chandrayan-I went to the Moon while the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft went to Mars.
At only $74 million, India’s Mars mission – Mangalyaan – was the world’s most cost-effective project to the planet. Its total cost was even compared with Gravity, an extremely-technical Hollywood movie that was produced at a price of $100 million.
EOS-6 as the third-generation satellite in the Oceansat series, will enable Oceansat-2 to carry on flying with all its instruments functioning. Its payload includes an Ocean Color Monitor (OCM-3), a Sea Surface Temperature Monitor (SSTM), a Ku-Band Scatterometer (SCAT-3), and Argos, as per ISRO.
In addition to EOS-6 (ISRO’s primary payload), PSLV-XL also placed into orbit satellites from two Indian private companies (Pixxel and Dhruvaspace), one American firm (Spaceflight USA) and a Bhutanese satellite co-developed with ISRO for Bhutan (INS-2B).
Pixxel’s Anand is a nanosatellite that serves as a technology-demonstrator for the commercial applications of miniature earth-observation cameras via a microsatellite in LEO. Dhruvaspace’s two Thybolt satellites are for radio communications. Spaceflight USA’s four Astrocast satellites has Internet of Things (IoT) technology, with the aim of having 80 of them in a constellation, according to Spaceflight’s website.
(With PTI inputs)