The Indian Space Research Organisation will launch its first space-based synthetic aperture radar from the Sriharikota spaceport next month, says an ISRO official.
Two separate missions will ride on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle: the radar imaging satellite Risat-2 and Anusat, a 35 kg microsatellite designed by Chennai-based Anna University.
Risat-2 is a military satellite. It was fast tracked after the Mumbai terrorist incident.
Risat-1 has been delayed to make way for Risat-2. It is is focused on agriculture. The orbit is selected so that it provides the necessary temporal sampling capability for monitoring the 'Kharif' crop, the important autumn harvest in India and Pakistan. Kharif crops are usually sown with the beginning of the first rains in July, during the southwest monsoon season.
The choice of C-band frequency (5.35 GHz), aided by both co and cross polarisation will ensure good discrimination in vegetation, agriculture and forestry.
Both Risats will be placed in a sun-synchronous orbit of 608 km altitude.
The imager on both satellites can operate in any of five modes, including coarse resolution (50 metre), wide swath (240 km), narrow swath (10km) and high resolution spotlight (2 metre).
Risat-2's radar imager was supplied by Israeli Aircraft Industries. ISRO built the satellite bus, which contains the command and control system and the down links.
The Israeli input follows India's decision to launch an Israeli spacecraft, Techsar, on the PSLV last year.
An unnamed official at Sriharikota said Risat-2 is likely to be launched in the first half of April. ISRO has previously said it plans to launch Risat-1 before the end of the year.