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INSAT - 3D : Advanced weather satellite

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India has successfully launched its second exclusive advanced meteorological spacecraft INSAT-3D by a European rocket from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana. The satellite will enhance country's capability in weather forecasting and disaster warning fields. European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket in its 56th consecutive successful mission, the workhorse vehicle Ariane 5 also launched Alphasat, Europe's largest ever telecommunication satellite launched INSAT-3D and Alphasat satellites. Alphasat is Europe's largest telecommunication satellite ever manufactured and results from a large scale public-private partner- ship between the European Space Agency and Inmarsat. INSAT-3D was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), very close to the in- tended one. Soon after the separation of INSAT-3D from the Ariane-5's upper cryogenic stage, the satellite's solar panel automatically got deployed. ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of INSAT-3D immediately. The inclination of INSAT-3D's orbit with respect to the equatorial plane was 3.495 deg.  Insat-3D is now moving towards its final geostationary orbital location of 82 degree East longitude and on August 6 it will reach it... Subsequently, the two meteorological payloads (imaging system and atmospheric sounder), as well as the two transponders (of the Meteorological Data Relay and Satellite-aided Search and Rescue system) would be activated by August 8, 2013. ISRO has taken up the responsibility of end-to- end reception and processing of Insat-3D data and the derivation of meteorological parameters with India Meteorological Department (IMD), New Delhi. An indigenously designed and developed Insat-3D Meteorological Data Pro- cessing System is installed and commissioned at IMD with a mirror site at space applications centre, Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh and Ahmedabad in Gujarat. “Though there was an anomalous behaviour of the satellite after the deployment of its solar panel, the Mission Operations Team of ISRO could immediately bring the Satellite into normalcy using prescribed contingency procedures and then resume the orbit-raising operations", ISRO said and in this regard a committee headed by T K Alex, a former Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, has been formed to look into the issue.

INSAT-3D, the 19 channel sounder payload of INSAT-3D including improved imaging system, will add a new dimension to weather monitoring through the newly developed atmospheric sounding system which would provide vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere. Data relay transponder, the third payload carried by INSAT-3D, receives the meteorological, hydrological, oceanographic parameters sent by Automatic Data Collection platforms located at remote uninhabited locations and relays them to a processing centre for generating accurate weather forecasts. INSAT-3D is also equipped with a search and rescue payload that picks up and relays alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users and relays them to the mission control centre to facilitate speedy search and rescue operations. With a lift-off mass of 2060 kg, INSAT-3D carries four payloads - Imager, Sounder, Data Relay Transponder and Satellite Aided Search & Rescue payload. Among them, the six channel imager can take weather pictures of the Earth and has improved features compared to the payloads in KALPANA-1 and INSAT-3A, the two Indian Geostationary Satellites providing weather services for the past one decade.

This will certainly augment India's capability in weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue services. INSAT-3D is also designed to provide meteorological observation and monitoring of land and ocean surfaces.