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Thursday, 5 July, 2001, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
France and India to build satellite
The satellite will be placed in a band above the equator
By Habib Beary in Bangalore

A team of Indian space scientists is in France to discuss building a weather satellite in collaboration with French scientists.

Nine scientists from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) left to hold talks with their colleagues at the French space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) earlier this week.

Tropical changes have a bearing on the weather in the northern hemisphere

Prof R Narasimha, ISRO
The project is a result of a new awareness of the critical role played by the tropics in climate change across the globe, even in the northern hemisphere.

Scientists believe that variations in tropical climate can trigger hurricanes or lead to drought in different parts of the world.

Megha Tropiques

The 500 kg satellite is to be named Megha Tropiques (Megha is Sanskrit for clouds and Tropiques French for tropics).

It will be the first dedicated satellite devoted to atmospheric research in the tropics, said the leader of the ISRO delegation, Professor R Narasimha.

He told the BBC that the project could well lead to more such global missions as Europe and the United States are increasingly showing an interest in increasing their understanding of the tropics.

Satellite image
Changes in tropical climate affects other parts of the world
International scientists working on global climate studies have expressed interest in the project, he said.

"Tropical changes have a bearing on the weather in the northern hemisphere. There is a connectivity," said Prof Narasimha.

The cost of the satellite is estimated to be around 400m rupees ($8.5m).


ISRO and CNES are jointly designing the satellite which is to be built at the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore.

India's top research institutes across the country are to be involved in the project and the Indian Meteorological Department will also participate.

The satellite is expected to be launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) by 2005.

Indian drought
Improved weather forecasts can predict droughts and other disasters
The satellite's mission is to improve models for accurate weather forecasting. This is key to predicting monsoons, floods and droughts, a common recurrence in parts of the world.

The satellite will orbit over the equator at a height of 867 km and closely monitor the tropics.

"This close monitoring is very important. Changes in energy and water budget of the land-ocean-atmosphere systems in the tropics influence the global climate to a great extent," said Prof Narasimha.

The information will supplement and complement the data received from other Indian geo-stationary and polar orbit satellites.

Megha Tropiques will carry a multi-frequency microwave scanning radiometer to provide information on oceanic rains, integrated water vapour content in the atmosphere and convective rain over land and sea.

It will also carry a multi-channel microwave instrument, known as Saphir, providing humidity profile of the atmosphere and a multi-channel instrument, Scarab, providing data on the earth's radiation cycle.

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