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Proceedings of the Symposium on Global and Environmental Monitoring

MG Chandrasekhar, V Jayaraman, K Radhakrishnan,
CBS Dutt, B Manikiam, PP Nageswara Rao
Indian Space Research Organisation
Headquarters, Bangalore
The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) - 1A is the first of a series of
indigenous remote sensing satellites that will serve the needs of resources survey
and management. The operationalisation of IRS-1A and the effective use of IRS-1A
data for various natural resources study is an important milestone in the Indian
Remote Sensing Programme and it forms the back-bone for India's National Natural
Resources Management System (NNRMS). The IRS-1A Satellite was launched on March 17,
1988 and was declared operational on April 7, 1988. Since then the data from the
Satellite is being collected on a routine basis and are supplied to users in India
and abroad on an operational basis. Imaging Sensors on-board IRS-1A use state-of-
art pushbroom scanners with CCDs as detectors and their characteristics in terms of
spatial, spectral resolutions and swath were arrived at based on application needs
of various remote sensing data users. The LISS-I (Linear Imaging Self Scanning)
sensor has spatial resolution of 72 meters and swath 148 kms. The LISS-II sensors,
two in number, provide spatial resolution of 36ms and ground swath 74 kms each and
are designated as LISS-IIA and LISS-IIB and provide combined swath of 145 kms.
Radiometric resolution of these sensors is 128 levels. The unique feature of this
satellite is the dual resolution offered by the LISS-I (72 ms) and LISS-II (36 ms)
sensors of IRS-1A which helps in looking at features in two different scales with
uniform local conditions of the same area. This capability of overview of larger
areas and at the same time providing an in-depth look at finer areas has been
effectively made use of by the user agencies.
Ever since its launch, the data from IRS-1A has been used extensively in various
natural resources applications such as landuse/land cover, crop acreage estimations
for rice and wheat, forest type identification, wastelands, soil salinity and land
degradation, urban landuse, ground water targetting, hydrological studies relating
to minor irrigation, command area studies, etc. IRS-1A data also has been used fob
environmental studies relating to wild-life habitat analysis, estuarine eco-systems,
turbidity levels of reservoirs and integrated drought management. In the field of
coastal oceanography the potential of IRS data for coastal wetland mapping, mangrove
identification and land form studies in Mahi estuary showed that IRS data are
complementary to Landsat and SPOT. In addition IRS data is being operationally used
in mapping the country's major flood, and related property losses and also in
estimating the country’s total agricultural area for agro-climatic zones planning.
Key Words : The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS-1A), LISS sensors,
Application potentials, Natural resources management.
Recognising the potentials and importance of systematic and periodic environmental
data collection using space instrumentation, Indian Space Research
Organisation/Department of Space, Government of India has conducted in the last two
decades a variety of extensive studies using aerial flights and experimental
satellite missions like Bhaskara I & II, with the active participation of user
agencies. The IRS programme was initiated in early eighties in order to ultimately
achieve a Natural Resources Information System for India. IRS-1A mission is the
first step in evolving such an operational resources Management System for India.
The IRS-1A satellite was designed and developed indigeneously and was launched on
March 17, 1988 into a polar Sun-synchronous orbit of 904 km altitude by the Soviet
Launcher VOSTAK from Bikanur. The orbital manoeuvres were completed and IRS-1A
attained its designated Sun-synchronous orbit on April 7, 1988. Since then the data
is collected on a routine basis as per the IRS referencing scheme and data products
are supplied to the users on an operational basis. This paper briefly presents the
specifications of the spacecraft and gives an account of its application potentials
in the management of the natural resources of India (DOS, 1983).
1.1 The Mission
The polar sunsynchronous orbit of 904 kms altitude was chosen for IRS-1A with the
equatorial crossing time of 10.25 AM in the descending node. Thus IRS-1A passes