A little more than a month after Uttarakhand was ravaged by floods, India last night successfully launched a dedicated weather monitoring satellite with search and rescue capabilities.
The INSAT - 3D, as it is called would help in issuing early warnings about storms and cloud bursts.
The satellite also has on board special equipment to measure atmospheric humidity and temperature which would help forecast heavy rainfall events. According to experts, if the satellite had been there already, timely and accurate predictions about the catastrophic rainfall over Uttarakhand in June would have been easier to make.
Given that the satellite was specifically meant to monitor the Indian region, day and night, weather predictions could become much more accurate.
The latest space mission has cost India around Rs700 crores. The Indian Space Research Organization's 2060-kg satellite was launched from the French space port at Kourou in French Guyana in South America with the tested Ariane-5 rocket in its 69th launch.
The satellite launch had been delayed by two years due to India's heavy launch rocket the Geo-Synchronous Launch Vehicle being out of commission.
Meanwhile, according to the PTI, the countdown lasted 11 hours and 30 minutes, at the end of which the Ariane-5 launch vehicle of the French commercial space transportation company Arianespace lifted off on schedule at the opening of the launch window at 1.24 AM IST.
The IBSAT-3D was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) after a flight that last 32 minutes and 48 seconds, which was very close to the intended one, the PTI report said.
Soon following the separation of INSAT-3D from Ariane-5's upper cryogenic stage, the satellite's solar panel deployed automatically and ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of the spacecraft.
Along with INSAT-3D, the Airane 5 rocked also launched Alphasat, Europe's largest telecommunication satellite-ever manufactured.
Over the next few days, orbit raising manoeuvres on INSAT-3D using the satellite's own propulsion system would place it in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit, according to the Bangalore-headquartered ISRO said.
According to ISRO, preliminary health checks of all the subsystems of INSAT-3D bus had been performed and the satellite's health remained satisfactory.
After the satellite's placement at 82° East orbital slot, the meteorological payloads of INSAT-3D would be turned on in the second week of next month to conduct an extensive test.
INSAT-3D would add a new dimension to weather monitoring with its atmospheric sounding system, which would provide vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere.