In order to predict the genesis of cyclones in the oceans, the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC) — an arm of ISRO — is developing a new, miniature weather-forecasting satellite — ScatSat — at the cost of an estimated Rs 300 crore.
Once launched at the end of this year, this satellite is expected to take over some of the functions of OCEANSAT-2, a satellite that had accurately predicted the landfall of cyclone Phailin on the Orissa coast in October 2013. This prediction had helped in timely evacuation and minimise human casualties.
“The scatterometer on OCEANSAT-2 that had provided accurate data about the landfall of Phailin cyclone has become dysfunctional since February 2014. We are now rapidly building a new scatterometer that will be able to predict cyclogenesis or the formation and strengthening of possible cyclones. This can be done by keeping a watch on the formation of the vortex of air over oceans,” said Tapan Misra, director, SAC.
The scatterometer on OCEANSAT-2 was launched in 2009 and became dysfunctional in about four-and-a-half years. Currently, India is depending on the NASA’s ISS-RapidScat to monitor ocean winds and cyclones.
“This ScatSat satellite will measure the wind speed and it’s direction over the ocean. It can predict the formation of cyclones, about 4-5 days in advance. This time period is very crucial in saving lives,” he said about the satellite that will carry a payload of about 110 kilograms.
A team of 300 scientists at SAC are currently working on this satellite which is expected to be ready to be shipped for launch within a couple of months. “This satellite will cost about Rs 250-300 crore and will have a life of about five years,” he added.
The data generated by this mini-satellite will be used by NASA, EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).