The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is drawing up plans to set up its inaugural overseas ground station at the North Pole.
The objective of the plan is to increase the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) operations that are critical not only for civilian needs like disaster management but also for the armed forces. China has already had a functional ground station at the North pole.
ISRO has full-grown IRS programme with a constellation of earth observation satellites. National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad has the responsibility of data acquisition and processing, data dissemination, aerial remote sensing and decision support for disaster management.
Speaking to The Times of India one of the scientists from ISRO said that “So far as the station at the North Pole goes, ISRO is serious about it. But the plan will take some time to materialize as it involves huge logistical challenges, international approvals, and co-operation. But we will surely have it.”
The weather conditions are extremely harsh and cold in this region and are considered even more difficult than the South Pole, any hardware installation is a challenging task.
The scientists stressed on the need for the 14-orbit coverage and said that the technological advancement in the high-resolution satellite programs of IRS has resulted in a multi-fold increase in the complexity, including the enhanced role of ground stations.
The scientist added that “high-resolution satellites need frequent visibilities with larger processing power, data storage capacity onboard, data downlink of stored image to ground stations for meeting the global and Indian user requirements.”
ISRO meets its global requirement through NRSC’s IMGEOS at Shadnagar which was made functional and commissioned in 2011 and Antarctica based AGEOS which was commissioned in the year 2013 and partially through SVALBARD ground station which is not an ISRO property.
Meanwhile, the plan of installing the second data reception antenna at the AGEOS in Antarctica this year has been delayed and expected to be done sometime next year. The AGEOS which is situated in Antarctica, at Bharati Station, Larsemann Hills, is receiving IRS data from satellites like Resourcesat-2, Risat-2, the Cartosat family of satellites, Saral and Oceansat, and further transmitting the same to Shadnagar.