A cyclone-predicting satellite being built by ISRO scientists at the Space Applications Centre (SAC) in Ahmedabad could be cited as an example of “frugality”. The new weather satellite — being built at 60 per cent of the actual cost and in one-third of the stipulated time — is set to replace OceanSat-2 that had accurately predicted cyclones like Hudhud and Phailin.
About 40 per cent parts of this 310 kg satellite, ScatSat-1, which is expected to be launched in July 2016, are literally “leftovers” from previous satellite missions that have been built at the SAC. “Normally, it takes about three years to build a satellite of this class from scratch. However, as we have sourced 40 per cent of the parts used in ScatSat-1 from spares of previous missions, we will complete it in a year’s time,” said Tapan Misra, director of the SAC, an important arm of ISRO that deals with a wide variety of disciplines comprising of design and development of payloads, societal applications, capacity building and space sciences.
“Also, there is a substantial reduction in the cost of building the satellite. We are at least saving 60 per cent of the total cost. That’s not all. When launched in July, ScatSat-1 will be piggy-ride with another satellite, thus saving us the launch costs as well,” said Misra, without divulging the cost of the new weather satellite. ScatSat-1 is set to replace OceanSat-2, which was launched in 2009 and had become dysfunctional in 2014. “OceanSat-2 was famous for its accurate predictions of cyclones like Hudhud and Phailin. Currently, we are getting most of our weather data from the INSAT-3D satellite,” he said.
The new satellite will also have a scatterometer to help it predict cyclogenesis or the formation and strengthening of cyclones in the seas. “It will measure wind vectors, including the direction and speed of wind over seas and oceans. This satellite has also been built to withstand multiple system failures, unlike the previous weather satellites that were designed for a single failure,” Misra added. ScatSat-1 will have a mission-life of five years and hold fort for ISRO till a more advanced OceanSat-3 is built. This polar orbiting satellite will take two days to cover the globe and is expected to provide data to other nations.