DRDO satellite that will sniff out enemy radars to be launched on April 1

NEW DELHI: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will launch an advanced electronic intelligence satellite EMISAT, developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), on April 1 that will be used to sniff out enemy radars and for collecting imagery and communication intelligence.

Former DRDO scientist Ravi Gupta told TOI the “military satellites like EMISAT have three key characteristics: help monitor the activities of enemy radars and sensors deployed along the border, know the exact topography of enemy areas and find out how many communication devices are active in an area”. The 436-kg DRDO satellite, which will be placed in the 763-km orbit, will help intelligence agencies keep an eagle’s eye on hostile countries like Pakistan.

The veteran scientist said security agencies “keep an eye on enemy weapons and assets through drones, aerostats or balloons that can peek deep into the enemy territory and electronic satellites. But they all have limitations. Drones can fly up to some hours and balloons can fly till helium gas lasts and satellites are not static. Therefore, launching a number of electronic satellites help in constant monitoring of enemy assets and their activities, and help tune in to enemy radars”.

He said the “electronic satellites also help security agencies know how many communication devices like cellphones are active in an area”. This is how National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) through technical surveillance recently revealed that around 300 mobiles were active in the Jaish terror camp in Pakistan’s Balakot before the IAF bombing. If the electronic satellites are very advanced, they can also help decode the conversation between two users of communication devices. However, the procedure to decode messages is very complex. Before EMISAT, Isro had launched another DRDO satellite Microsat-R on January 24, which has the capability to capture images at night.

According to an Isro source, “Out of the total 47 operational satellites, India currently has six-eight satellites which are entirely used for military and surveillance purpose. Besides the cloud-penetrating Risat-2 satellite that has night surveillance capability, there are four Cartosat-2 series satellites (2C, 2D, 2E, 2F). These Cartosat satellites with their high-resolution panchromatic (PAN) cameras can take black and white pictures of the earth and can cover swath of 9.6 km at a time. Besides these, there is Gsat-29 communication satellite. The military satellites can zoom up to a resolution of 0.5 metre (means it can distinguish between two objects separated by 50 cm distance), can capture clear images of an object on the earth and can also take short videos to monitor activities of any person, a group and enemy assets.

Isro’s PSLV-C45 will launch EMISAT along with 28 foreign satellites, including those from the US, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland, and three experimental payloads, including that of Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) for conducting microgravity tests in space.

The launch of PSLV-C45 at 9.30 am on April 1 is signficant for another important reason. For the first time in India’s space history, a PSLV will release payloads in three orbits.

The rocket will first release EMISAT at 763km, thereafter it will be brought down to put 28 foreign satellites in 504km and finally the last rocket stage (PS4) will reach 485km orbit where it will double up as an experimental platform. The PS4 will host three payloads— automatic identification system from Isro, automatic packet repeating system from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) and advanced retarding potential analyzer for ionospheric studies (ARIS) from IIST. The experimental payloads attached to the PS4 will conduct various experiments in space.

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