None other than the director of the Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre, the very affable R.R.Navalgund, has made a critical assessment of the state of earth observation satellites during the heads of space agencies summit in Washington on November 17, 2010. It was orgnised by the International Academy of Astronautics to mark its 50th year.
The thrust of his presentation was that there was a need to strengthen the constellation of earth observation satellites for monitoring disasters.
Navalgund, who chaired the disaster management group at the Washington space summit, in his ppt made the following points. These are just few of them:-
* Geostationary satellites provide data over large areas( eg 1/2 an hour) and are appropriate for detecting, monitoring and providing early warning for some of the meteorological disasters such as tropical cyclones. But, they do not provide adequate spatial and spectral resolution for most of the other disasters.
* Satellites with microwave payloads provide information over cloud-covered regions. But, they are limited in number.
* Constellation of satellites specifically designed for disaster management have been initiated by some space agencies. But, they are limited and need improvement.
* Satellites with specific payloads for early warning of natural disasters are few in number.
* While earth observation data is helpful in mapping flood inundation,drought severity assessment, cyclone tracking and mitigation measures, lacunae exist in:-
a----predicting the cyclone landfall point and intensity accurately.
b----Flood forecasting in particular flash floods.
``Beyond Moon and Mars,'' has not reproduced the extremely informative and interesting ppt completely. It will do so in the coming days after studying them. But, the points made by Dr Navalgund which have been reproduced here are of extreme importance and significance and the authorities should respond to them.