these three instruments, MADRAS will be developed jointly by CNES
and ISRO while the other two instruments will be supplied by CNES.
The Megha Tropiques will use the 'PROTEUS' spacecraft platform
developed by CNES.
ISRO will launch the satellite on its Polar
Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, into an orbit at a height of 867 km and an
inclination of 20 degrees, with respect to the equatorial plane. In this orbit,
Megha Tropique can collect data repetitively over the tropics and supplement
and complement the data obtained from geostationary and polar orbit satellites.
The satellite will be controlled in orbit by CNES, and the scientific data will
be received and distributed by ISRO from Bangalore. The launch is planned for
the end 2005.
It is well known that the tropical region is the
domain of squall lines and cyclones and is characterised by large
intra-seasonal, inter-seasonal and inter-annual variations that have led to
several catastrophic events such as droughts and floods. Changes in energy and
water budget of the land-ocean-atmosphere systems in the tropics influences the
global climate to a great extent. The exchange of energy in the inter-tropical
zone influences the climate of the rest of the planet. These systems interact
with the general circulation of the atmosphere in ways that are yet to be fully
understood and hence reducing the reliability in the prediction of the weather
and climate events. It is in this context that data from the
unique combination of scientific payloads and the
special orbit of the satellite makes Megha Tropiques invaluable for climate
In addition to Indian and French scientists who
will be taking part in the data analysis, international teams of scientists
working on global climate related studies have also expressed keen interest in
the satellite programmes.
It may be recalled that a Statement of Intent had
been signed by ISRO and CNES in November 1999 for conducting the
pre-feasibility studies for undertaking the joint Megha Tropiques mission. The
studies conducted, pursuant to that Statement of Intent, have yielded a
baseline configuration of the satellite and its instruments, the choice of the
optimum orbit, the satellite launch vehicle, satellite operations and
scientific research plan. The MOU signed today enables both ISRO and CNES to
start detailed design of the Megha Tropiques mission.
The MOU signed today is also a major milestone in
the long standing relationship between Indian and French space agencies. It is
to be noted that ISRO and CNES have a long standing collaboration and several
joint research projects have been undertaken by the agencies. Several
meteorological payloads, developed by CNES, have also been flown by Indian
sounding rockets from Thumba and Sriharikota.