India to test indigenous low-cost space radar in June

Continuing its tryst with indigenous technology, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will in June test a sophisticated, home-built, Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket flight. Designed and developed by the Mr. Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), the radar that can track 10 objects simultaneously can pick objects the size of a football at distances of 800km while slightly bigger objects can be tracked at a slant range of 1,000km. Just a handful of nations and companies have demonstrated this capability, SDSC director Mr. MYS Prasad told reporters at Sriharikota, the satellite launching pad in southern India. The £45m (Rs 4.5bn) MOTR was made at a quarter of the price as those manufactured abroad. Even the software for operating the system and analysing the data have been developed in-house. The real-time data from the radar will provide ISRO the capacity to protect its space assets against debris. It was only the radio frequency transparent radome that houses the radar that was sourced from outside the country. The radar antenna beam generated by 4,608 radiating elements can be steered across space. Weighing 35 tonnes, the radar which stands eight metres tall can be turned in different directions and will be handy during rocket launches and atmospheric re-entry.

MOM doing well

India’s Mars orbiter meanwhile is doing well with plenty of propellant reserves to last till the end of the year and even beyond. Initially it was launched with a lifetime of six months. The low-cost indigenously made probe was placed in orbit in a first attempt, winning it a place in last year’s top ten inventions listed by TIME. The probe cost a little around £45m compared to the £120m Nasa spent on Maven. Orbiting the planet in its highly elliptical orbit with the low point at under 400km in altitude, the probe has been returning some stunning images of Mars. The Methane Sensor data has not yet picked evidence of methane in the atmosphere but is working well. The MSM payload weighs 3.6kg and is designed to measure methane concentrations in the Martian atmosphere with parts per billion accuracy. Early this year, Mr. A S Kiran Kumar, Director, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, assumed the office of the Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, ISRO.

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