The Joint Working Group of the Indian Space Research Organisation
(ISRO) and the French Space Agency Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales
(CNES) met at Goa during July 5-6, 2008 to review the progress of on-going
collaborative programmes under the chairmanship of Dr G Madhavan Nair,
Chairman, ISRO and Dr Yannick d`Escatha, President, CNES.
The status of Megha Topiques, an Indo-French collaborative
satellite project scheduled for launch during 2009 for tropical weather
monitoring was presented during the meeting. Megha Tropiques carries four
payloads – a Microwave Radiometer, a humidity sounder, a radiation
measuring instrument and a Radio occultation sounder for atmospheric studies.
During the meeting, an Agreement between ISRO and CNES on the Data Policy for
distribution of data received from Megha Tropiques was also signed. This policy
enables the global scientific community to have free access to Megha Tropiques
data after calibration and evaluation of the payloads by scientists from both
the agencies for weather and climate change studies. This data is expected to
enhance a better understanding of the tropical weather phenomena including the
The meeting also reviewed the status of SARAL, a small satellite
mission with payloads from CNES for the study of ocean parameters towards
enhancing the understanding of the ocean state conditions which are otherwise
not covered by the in-situ measurements. The satellite carries a Ka band
altimeter and a payload for reception of ARGO floats deployed all over the
world oceans. The altimeter data will provide support in coastal environment
studies, estuarine, bathymetry and preparedness towards Tsunami disaster. The
periodic data collection over the oceans permits climate assimilations for
improved weather forecast.
While reviewing the future collaborative projects, the teams
emphasised the need for space-based observations for climate, environment and
disaster management. Scientists from ISRO and CNES exchanged ideas for
cooperation in conceiving space based systems and methodologies, which lead to
a better understanding of tropical weather and climate. The cooperation between
the two agencies will also enhance interaction between scientists outside space
agencies in India and France and among the global scientific community. It was
re-emphasised that technical and scientific strengths of ISRO and CNES would
lead to evolving and establishing innovative operational space systems in
addressing issues related to the tropical weather and climate. Both the
agencies concluded that these efforts should facilitate achieving leadership
position in understanding the tropical climate.
The meeting further re-established the relevance of the
successful Indo-French cooperation in space activities.