When India's heaviest microwave satellite is launched into space Thursday, there will be another reason to cheer as it is a woman who is the director of the key project.
After 'Missile woman' Tessy Thomas, who was closely involved with India's Agni-V intercontinental ballistic missile that was launched on April 19, a woman from Tamil Nadu, N. Valarmathi, is the project director for the Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-1) project at the Indian space agency's Satellite Centre in Bangalore.
"As the project director, she (Valarmathi) is responsible for the delivery and the functioning of the satellite," an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS, requesting anonymity.
On Thursday, ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will deliver the Risat-1 remote sensing satellite into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
Weighing 1,858 kg, the Risat-1 with a life span of five years would be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry, and its high resolution pictures and microwave imaging could also be used for defence purposes.
The satellite's synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can acquire data at C-band. In 2009, ISRO had launched 300 kg Risat-2 with an Israeli built SAR enabling earth observation in all weather, day and night conditions.
Attempts by IANS to reach Valarmathi were not successful. According to ISRO officials, she will be at the rocket launch centre busy with the launch preparatory work and, therefore, inaccessible.
Incidentally. Valarmathi is the second woman to be the satellite project director at ISRO, but the first woman to head a remote sensing satellite project.
T.K. Anuradha, who headed the communication satellite GSAT-12 programme, is the first woman ever to have been the satellite project director at ISRO.
At the macro level, ISRO has three satellite programmes: geo-stationary, remote sensing and small/experimental satellites.
The geo-stationary satellites are largely communication satellites used for telecommunications, television broadcasting, internet and other purposes.
Remote sensing or earth observation satellites send back pictures and other data for use.
With 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in space, India has the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world providing imagery in a variety of resolutions from more than a metre ranging up to 500 metres. The data makes India a major player in vending such data in the global market.
The 11 satellites are TES, Resourcesat 1, Cartosat 1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS 1, Risat-2, Oceansat 2, Resourcesat-2, and Megha-Tropiques.