A satellite for oceanographic studies launched by ISRO with an intended mission life of five years has completed a decade of service and is continuing to do its job.
SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtika) is an Indo-French cooperative mission.
ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has provided the small satellite bus platform to which French national space agency CNES payload composed of ARGOS-3 and Altika instruments (altimeter, radiometer, DORIS, LRA) are integrated.
SARAL was launched on February 25, 2013, from SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota onboard PSLV-C20. The intended mission life was five years, the Bengaluru-headquatered ISRO noted in a statement on Thursday.
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Visualised at the turn of the millennium, Altika is a technological breakthrough that offered a Ka-band altimeter for the first time to measure the topography of the surface of the oceans, ISRO said.
Altika enabled imaging the coasts, rivers and lakes with better resolution than its predecessors, it said.
“Lesser penetration depth of Ka-band waves into the snow or ice than that of the lower frequency counterparts facilitated more accurate measurement of the altitudes”, the statement said.
Besides contributing to the observation of the oceanic circulation of mesoscale (between 50 and 500 km) essential to understanding the dynamics of the ocean and its climatic impacts, AltiKa data are also widely used by glaciologists and hydrologists, according to ISRO.
“Thanks to the efforts of ISRO, CNES, and EUMETSAT (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) operational teams, SARAL is relentlessly pursuing its work as an ocean surveyor for the benefit of the international scientific community and the ‘Copernicus Marine Service'”, the Indian national space agency said.
SARAL performs altimetric measurements designed to study ocean circulation and sea surface elevation, it was noted.
The payloads of SARAL are accommodated in the Indian Mini Satellite-2 bus, built by ISRO.
SARAL data products are useful for operational as well as research user communities in many fields like marine meteorology and sea state forecasting, operational oceanography, seasonal forecasting, climate monitoring, ocean, earth system and climate research and continental ice studies, it said.