New Eye in the Sky: RESOURCESAT-1

Dr. R.S. Rao
IRS Program
Space Imaging
Thornton, Colo.
Andrea M. Cook
International Business Development
Space Imaging
Thornton, Colo.

The Indian Remote Sensing Program (IRS) has emerged as one of the highest profile programs in the commercial imaging industry. The IRS Program is the world’s largest with six satellites currently in orbit and operational, including IRS-1C, P2, P3, 1D, P4 and RESOURCESAT-1. Two additional IRS satellites, Cartosat-1 and RESOURCESAT-2, will be launched over the next two years, and four additional “next generation” satellites will be launched in the future.

On October 17, 2003, the Indian remote sensing satellite RESOURCESAT-1 was launched into an 817 km sun-synchronous polar orbit by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). RESOURCESAT-1 is the most advanced satellite built by ISRO, bringing continuity to the current IRS 1-C and 1-D programs. RESOURCESAT-1 has three sensors providing 5.8-, 23.5-, and 56-meter resolution panchromatic and multispectral data for a vast variety of applications.

Since 1994, Space Imaging has partnered with Antrix Corporation, a division of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), to exclusively market and distribute IRS products and ground stations outside of India. Space Imaging and Antrix have recently concluded agreements to extend this partnership through 2010 and are working to commercialize IRS imagery products and ground stations both inside and outside of India.

Space Imaging (Thornton, Colo.) launched IKONOS, the world’s first 1-meter, high-resolution commercial remote sensing satellite in September of 1999. Space Imaging has developed an extensive network of government and commercial Regional Ground Stations worldwide that have the capability to access, download, process and distribute IKONOS data and products. Through the partnership with Antrix and the Indian Government, Space Imaging has also established more than 14 International IRS Ground Stations worldwide, and many stations will be upgrading their systems to download RESOURCESAT-1 through upgrades or multi-source ground stations.

RESOURCESAT-1 is designed to support applications such as urban planning, national security, mapping, agriculture and crop monitoring, forestry, and disaster management. With three sensors on board, RESOURCESAT-1 is capable of collecting panchromatic and multispectral data ranging from 5 to 56 meters in resolution, with a revisit time of 5 to 24 days.

RESOURCESAT-1, the tenth satellite of ISRO in the IRS series, is the most advanced remote sensing satellite built by ISRO. RESOURCESAT-1 is intended not only to continue the remote sensing data services provided by IRS-1C and IRS-1D, but also to vastly enhance data quality. RESOURCESAT-1 carries three sensors similar to those of IRS-1C and IRS-1D, but with these vastly improved spatial resolutions:

High-Resolution Linear Imaging Self-Scanner

LISS-IV operates in three spectral bands in the Visible and Near Infrared (VNIS) or PAN mode with 5.8 meter spatial resolution; it is steerable up to +/-26 degrees across track to obtain stereoscopic imagery and five-day revisit capability.

LISS-IV, with 5-meter resolution imagery, will be very useful for mapping and creating spatial databases, large scale maps, urban planning and development, and National and Homeland Security applications. Remote sensing is used in the agriculture industry to analyze crop growth and soil characteristics, to detect change, to predict yield, and for models and precision farming. Agriculture applications can require frequent revisits of the same area, and LISS-IV’s 5-meter resolution and 5-day revisit time offers a cost-effective solution.

Medium-Resolution LISS III

An improved version LISS-3 camera with four bands (red, green, near-IR and SWIR), all at 23.5-meter resolution and 141 km swath, will provide essential continuity to IRS 1-D data. The sensors on board the satellite will provide data useful for vegetation-related applications and will allow multiple crop and species discrimination.

LISS-III with 23-meter resolution imagery has proved its utility beyond doubt for land use, landcover mapping, agriculture applications such as crop acreage estimation and yield predicition, damage assessment for disaster management and insurance, forest mapping and management, and a variety of environmental applications.

Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS)

The Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) has a 60-meter average resolution with a 700 km swath and a five-day revisit. This camera will greatly aid crop and vegetation monitoring, country-level crop estimations, and water resource applications. This is an improvement to IRS 1-C and 1-D’s AWiFS sensor, which has 180-meter resolution.

AWiFS, with twin cameras, offers excellent use for national crop monitoring for food security assessment, regional environmental monitoring, and disaster management applications like flood monitoring, forest fire monitoring, damage assessment, and drought assessment through temporal Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) changes.

Space Imaging has the exclusive worldwide rights to distribute RESOURCESAT-1 imagery products outside of India. Space Imaging offers imagery products anywhere in the world, except India, using its reception station in Norman, Okla., other IRS International Ground Stations, or by using 120 Gigabits of on-board memory from the RESOURCESAT-1 satellite.


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