Isro’s PSLV C43 launches India’s first hyperspectral imaging sat along with 30 foreign satellites

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SRIHARIKOTA: At exactly 9.58 AM on Thursday, Indian Space Research Organisation’s reliable workhorse PSLV rocket soared into the skies from Sriharikota’s first launchpad carrying with it India’s first hyperspectral imaging satellite (HysIS), an advanced earth observation satellite, and 30 foreign satellites. During the 112-minute-long mission, PSLV C43 first delivered India’s primary satellite into the polar sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 630 km 17 minutes and 27 seconds after the launch, took a round of the globe, and released 30 international co-passengers at a lower orbit of 504 km above India in the second manoeuvre. The 30 commercial satellites, including one micro and 29 nano satellites, are from eight countries. Of the total 30 satellites, 23 are from the United States. PSLVC43 for the first time launched satellites of Australia, Colombia, Malaysia and Spain.

HysIS is weighing 380kg will be used for a range of applications like agriculture, forestry, soil survey, geology, coastal zones, inland water studies, environmental studies and detection of pollution from industries. Being an earth observation satellite, it will also be used by the military for surveillance or anti-terror operations. Well, this is ISRO’s sixth mission of the year that made use of a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), also witnessed the launch of HysIS. HysIS is India’s own best-ever high-resolution earth observation satellite.

Soon after the mission completed, Isro chairman K. Sivan congratulated Isro directors and scientists for the textbook launch. HysIS launch is the sixth launch this year. When asked on increasing launch frequency, Sivan told, “Today’s is the second launch within 15 days after Gsat-29 mission on November 14. Twenty days on, we are gearing up for another launch. We will have a hectic schedule as the frequency of launches will only increase in coming months. We are planning to launch 12-14 next year.”

Though hyperspectral imaging was first tried by Isro in an 83-kg IMS-1 experimental satellite way back in May 2008 and later on Chandrayaan-1 mission in the same year for mapping lunar mineral resources, this is the first time a full-fledged hyperspectral imaging satellite has been launched. Hyperspectral or hyspex imaging combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum and enables distinct identification of objects on the Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space.

HysIS is a very rare satellite with a super-sharp eye, and very few countries have indigenously mastered this technology. Earlier, HYSIS, which needed to be injected into a higher orbit, was separated from the launch vehicle. Later other satellites were injected into the orbits which are at a lower altitude. The PSLV-C43 rocket is the lightest of the PSLV family of launchers. PSLV-C43 doesn’t have the added booster engines that the others PSLV variants do, said reports. The combined weight of the satellites is 641.5kg.

HysIS, which can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above the ground, carries two payloads. The satellite is designed to provide earth observation service for five years till 2023. PSLVC43 is a four-stage rocket, with alternating liquid and solid stages. The PSLV variant is the lightest version of the PSLV rocket – the core-alone version – that only uses four core stages without six strap-on boosters (Boosters give added thrust to other two PSLV variants). Each stage is built to power the rocket through a different phase in the launch process. Today’s launch was PSLV’s 45th mission overall and 13th of PSLV C43 variant. In the last 25 years, Isro has launched 52 Indian and 239 foreign satellites from 28 countries, carving a space for itself in the satellite launch market.

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