India's new space warning system will also keep an eye out for hostile missiles
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) quietly launched
Project NETRAthis month.
- The Network for Space Object Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) will track space debris and other potential threats to Indian satellites in space.
- India will no longer be dependant on the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) for tracking space objects.
AdvertisementAs the world debated over India’s lunar mission, Chandrayaan 2, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has quietly launched Project NETRA in the background.
India’s warning system to detect space debris and other potential threats to Indian satellites is now live, according to a report by The Hindu.
The Network for Space Object Tracking and Analysis (NETRA) will safeguard India’s 50 functional satellites in space using an on-ground network of telescopes and radars under the Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management.
According to ISRO, NETRA won’t be tracking space objects exclusively. It will also have military applications — just like NORAD — serving as a warning system against incoming missiles or space attacks from hostile nations.
Self-sufficiency in space situational awareness
India’s new ₹400 crore ($56 million) system ensures India will no longer have to depend on data from the North America Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD).
Publically available data on the portal was not accurate enough and useful data is exclusive to NORAD members, which was a major obstacle, according to ISRO Chairman K Sivan.
NETRA is the first step in making India self sufficient when it comes to space situational awareness (SSA).
What can NETRA do?
As of now, NETRA can only track objects in low-earth orbit (LEO), which is only 2,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. It can detect objects as small as 10 centimeters in size up within a range of 3,400 kilometers.
Going forward, ISRO has plans to upgrade that capability to track the geostationationary orbit (GEO) as well at 36,000 kilometers.
AdvertisementPlans for NETRA include a high-precision and long-range telescope in Leh, a radar in the North East, telescopes in Ponmudi and Mount Abu. It will also use the Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.
The entire network will also include data processing units and a control center.
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