Indo-French space cooperation is all set to soar to new heights with the scheduled launch of a satellite to study changes in the environment soon after the visit of French President Francois Hollande in New Delhi next week.
The SARAL-Altika satellite, a joint project of the space agencies of India and France, will complement the observations of the seas made by current satellites.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has identified a launch window between February 22 and February 25 for putting the 450 kg Indo-French satellite into orbit from its spaceport at Sriharikota, official sources said here.
India's warhorse rocket, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will put the satellite into orbit.
SARAL is short for Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa, the two main devices on it which have been provided by French space agency CNES. Besides building the spacecraft, ISRO will launch and operate it through its life.
SARAL would be one of the very few ocean-centric satellites and a vital cog in studying sea surface heights and other aspects. Earlier, the launch was scheduled for December last year but it had to be put off to complete a few tests and validations.
AltiKa is an Ka-band altimeter system, dedicated to accurate measurement of the rise in the sea levels.
The satellite would be useful in studying the sea state, light rainfall climatology, mean sea level and coastal altimetry.
The satellite would help ocean scientists gather accurate data on the rise in the sea level which could threaten the low lying and coastal areas of the country.