Coming back from the Chandrayaan-2 heartbreak the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) unveiled its new project NETRA. NETRA (Network for space object Tracking and Analysis) would be an early warning system in space that would protect Indian satellites from debris and other hazards.
The project would boost India’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) by helping ‘predict’ threats from debris to Indian satellites. The early warning system would also serve unstated warning against missile or space attack for the country said the experts.
ISRO would be deploying NETRA first in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The LEO region houses most of the Indian remote sensing satellites. As a part of this INR 400 Crore project, ISRO would put up many observational facilities: connected radars, telescopes; data processing units and a control center that can spot, track and catalogue objects as small as 10 cm, up to a range of 3,400 km and equal to a space orbit of around 2,000 km.
Space debris that constitutes dead satellites, parts or rockets, etc., act as a great threat to space assets of a nation. A small piece or fragment of floating debris is capable enough to disable a satellite’s on-board electronics and can cripple the satellite worth several hundred crore rupees besides the threat of running through it.
The ISRO chief K. Sivan said that the project would make India the part of the global efforts towards tracking, warning about and mitigating space debris. The eventual goal of the project is to provide cover to satellites in GEO (Geostationary) orbits.
K. Sivan also said that, ” in plans are a high-precision, long-range telescope in Leh and a radar in the North East. “Along with them, we will also use the Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) that we have put up at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, and the telescopes at Ponmudi and Mount Abu” to get a broad SSA picture.
He explained that ISRO performs collision avoidance maneuvers on satellites. However, to do that it depends on data from NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) and others available in the public domain but that doesn’t provide accurate or comprehensive information. By establishing an observation system of its own, India would become part of the global network and can access precise data.
Security Part Of It
As per defense experts, the project NETRA also has a military quotient to it and adds a new ring to the country’s overall security. The NORAD is also used by the U.S. and Canada (A joint initiative of both the nations) to secure their geography against attacks from air, space or sea.
Defense experts further added that apart from radars and telescopes, India should also think of deploying satellites that track other satellites — as the U.S. and other space powers had done. Combined with other elements of military intelligence, SSA would help India to understand motives behind any suspicious orbit changes of other satellites and to know if they were spying on or harming Indian spacecraft