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Indian Rocket Launches Swarm of International Mini Satellites

A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully launched from India today, sending seven different international satellites into orbit. Launch was at 7:31 a.m. EST (12:31 UTC) and on board were three Canadian-built spacecraft including a small asteroid-hunting satellite (weighing in at just 74 kg) called NEOSSat, other small satellites from the UK, Austria and Denmark and an India-France joint effort called SARAL, an Earth observation satellite, the primary payload for the launch.

Reports indicate all seven satellites were placed in their proper orbits and after their initial check-outs will being their missions.

The Canadian asteroid-hunting NEOSSAT is among the fleet of satellites launched on Feb. 25, 2013.Credit: Canadian Space Agency

The Canadian asteroid-hunting NEOSSAT is among the fleet of satellites launched on Feb. 25, 2013.Credit: Canadian Space Agency

NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite)will track large asteroids that may come close to Earth and also track space debris in orbit. The suitcase-sized NEOSSat will orbit approximately 800 kilometers above the Earth, searching for objects that are difficult to spot using ground-based telescopes. Because of its location, NEOSSat will not be limited by the day-night cycle and will operate continuously.

“NEOSSat will discover many asteroids much faster than can be done from the ground alone,” said Alan Hildebrand of the University of Calgary. “Its most exciting result, however, will probably be discovering new targets for exploration by both manned and unmanned space missions.”

SARAL will be monitoring climate on Earth; CanX-3 BRITE (BRIght Target Explorer) is billed as the smallest astronomical telescope looking for faint objects; Sapphire is a military satellite that will keep track of objects orbiting between 3,800 and 25,000 miles (6,000 and 40,000 kilometers) from Earth; TUGSat-1 BRITE from Austria will monitor changes in brightness in stars; AAUSat 3 from Denmark will moniter ship traffic on Earth’s oceans, and STRaND-1 is a nanosatellite carrying a smartphone, has unique “screaming in space” experiment.

See more information on each satellite on our preview article.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Stan Taylor February 25, 2013, 3:19 PM

    SpaceX is requisitioning some of those thrones for their control room even as we speak.

    • sharya February 27, 2013, 1:54 AM

      WOOOOOWWWWWW Really are they?

  • Mathew Lear February 25, 2013, 6:38 PM

    Quite strange how the Indian government receives millions in aid to feed there starving population but they are quite capable of sending satellites into space and building Nuclear Warhead Armed Submarines !!

    • Yugandhar Reddy Talakola February 25, 2013, 9:13 PM

      How is this relevant here? Name a country which doesn’t have
      poor and starving. Why politicise science related matters? Yes India has poor
      and starving, but they also have good space program. They are also building
      cryogenic upper stage for launching satellites to geosynchronous orbit, they
      might achieve successful launch by 2015.

    • speedintel1 February 26, 2013, 10:20 AM

      Contradictions exists: Indian Govt. doesnt receive nor take any ”REAL” aid to feed some of their starving population. ‘Aid’ is another form of placing a country in a ‘DEBT’ Trap: to keep them busy & hungry (for ever). Only in the last 3-450yrs did ”First(1)st” world ever manage to have a ‘real’ decent quality of life at the expense of a whole continent called Africa and a sub-continent called India, not to mention the 80% of earth resources that have been systematically been & continue to be exploited. India can give Free ”Lunch” & UNconditional ‘Luv’ which is beyond the comprehension of most ”advanced/capitalistic” countries. As regards space & subs they are just being re-invented after their initial conception by the earlier civilizations prior to the vedic times – thats what they claim;) who knows??

    • Desidude February 26, 2013, 6:44 PM

      Sorry, which aid? check the facts and please post here on what those millions in aid are that you think india is getting… The only forced aid is what UK gives to india, which is being stopped now on India’s insistence.

  • Rob Curran February 26, 2013, 6:09 AM

    One man’s satellite is another man’s space junk.

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