Context:  With the launch of EOS-01, an earth observation satellite, India sent its first space mission in almost a year. 

More on the news:

  • EOS-01, along with nine (four each are from the United States and Luxembourg and a technology demonstrator from Lithuania) satellites from foreign countries, was launched by a PSLV rocket.
    • New Launch Vehicle: For the launch of EOS-01, ISRO used a new variant of its PSLV rocket that has been flown only once before, when it had placed the Microsat-R satellite in orbit last year.
  • Progress:
    • EOS-01 was initially named RISAT-2BR2, and was supposed to be the third of the three-spacecraft constellation aimed at providing all-weather round-the-clock service for high-resolution images.
    • This is ISRO’s first mission since the launch of RISAT-2BR1, another earth observation satellite similar to EOS-01, in december last year. 
    • After that, ISRO had also sent communication satellite GSAT-30 in space in January this year, but that was done using an Ariane rocket launched from French Guiana.

About EOS-01:

  • New nomenclature: 
    • With EOS-01, ISRO is moving to a new naming system for its earth observation satellites which till now have been named according to the purpose they are meant for (thematically). 
      • For example, the Cartosat series of satellites were meant to provide data for land topography and mapping, while the Oceansat satellites were meant for observations over sea. 
    • Henceforth (it seems) all the earth observation satellites would be called EOS-series.
  • Purpose: Land and forest mapping and monitoring, mapping of resources like water or minerals or fishes, weather and climate observations, soil assessment, geospatial contour mapping.
  • Application: According to ISRO, EOS-01 is intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. The radar images are also considered to be immensely useful for military requirements.
  • Radar imaging: One big advantage that radar imaging has over optical instruments is that it is unaffected by weather, cloud or fog, or the lack of sunlight and it can produce high-quality images in all conditions and at all times.
    • EOS-01, and its sister RISATs, use X-band radars that operate at low wavelengths and are considered best for monitoring urban landscape, and imaging of agricultural or forest land. 

PSLV and its new variant:

  • For the PSLV, this was the 51st flight and earlier only two of its launches have not been successful.
  • The new variant of PSLV does not become waste after depositing its satellite in orbit. 
  • In effect, the fourth stage acts like another satellite, with a life span of about six months.
    • The last stage of the rocket (the one that remains after the satellite is separated), can acquire its own orbit and be used as an orbital platform for other onboard instruments to perform experiments in space. 

Future plans of ISRO:

  • ISRO had planned more than 20 satellite launches in the fiscal year 2020-21 and half of the planned launches were those of earth observation satellites.
  • This includes high profile missions like Aditya L1 - the first exploratory mission to the Sun, and unmanned Gaganyaan - the precursor to India’s first manned space flight.

Source: NDTV