Isro-Nasa satellite to help ‘predict’ landslides

Source:-Isro-Nasa satellite to help ‘predict’ landslides

At least 46 people lost their lives in massive landslides in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district on August 13. Likewise, thousands of people were stranded after a landslide near Vishnuprayag on the Badrinath route on May 19. Had Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) been able to develop a satellite-based early warning system (EWS), the country would have been able to predict rainfall-triggered landslides and helped save many lives.

In 2014, the space agency had announced it was developing an “experimental EWS for rainfall-triggered landslides” along the pilgrimage-route corridors leading to Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, as well as along the Pithoragarh-Malpa route in Uttarakhand. But the system has not been implemented yet.

However, Indo-US joint satellite project NISAR is likely to make things better. “The satellite, once launched, will help the country accurately map the movement of the earth before a landslide,” says Tapan Misra, director of Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre.

The Nasa-Isro Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) will make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes for integration into earth system models. The world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite, whose launch is expected in 2020 from the Indian soil, will provide a means to measure and clarify processes ranging from ecosystem disturbances to ice sheet collapse and natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.NISAR will acquire radar images of surface changes globally. Radar penetrates clouds and operates day and night, enabling reliable and continuous monitoring at all times. Orbiting radar captures images of the movements of the Earth’s surface, and land and sea ice over time, revealing subtle changes in the surface as well as what is happening below the surface. Detailed observations will allow Isro and Nasa better manage resources and prepare for and cope with natural hazards and global change.

According to a Geological Survey of India study, 12.6% of India’s landmass falls under the landslide-prone hazardous zone and 8% of global landslide fatalities are reported from our country. “Out of the total land area prone to landslide, 0.18 million sq km fall in the northeast Himalayas, including Darjeeling and Sikkim. About 0.14 million sq km fall in northwest Himalayas in states like Uttarakhand, Himachal and J&K,” the study said. It stressed the need for an EWS that can “at least predict where landslides will happen”.

Countries like the US, Britain and China have already developed their own satellite-based EWS. China, in fact, had recently reported development of a space-based EWS that uses satellite data to accurately map the movement of the earth before a landslide.

For other calamities like floods, Isro already has dedicated satellites like SCATSAT-1. The satellite, launched in September 2016, is a continuity mission for Oceansat-2 Scatterometer to provide wind vector data for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services. This year, Isro has been using SCATSAT-1 to track flooding with a focus on Gujarat and Rajasthan floods. The satellite is also being extensively used to track monsoon activities in West Bengal, UP, Assam and Bihar. It used data based on backscattering and brightness temperatures of the earth to monitor flood situations. Isro was able to capture a high-resolution data set by scanning overlapping areas with the satellite.





Source:- TNN

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