France posts space counsellor in Bangalore

Bangalore, May 27 (IANS) The French government posted Mat Weiss as its space counseller with diplomatic rank in Bangalore to strengthen and expand relations between its space agency and the Indian space agency, headquartered here, an official said Monday.

“Weiss will liaison with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on regular basis as we implement the agreement signed by the two governments during the visit of President Francois Hollande to India in February,” French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) president Jean-Yves Le Gall told IANS here.

The agreement envisages both the state-run agencies (CNES and ISRO) to explore means to pursue further cooperation, including joint missions, payloads and applications, exchange of young scientists and professionals in India and France and conducting thematic workshops.

“Besides launching two more Indian satellites – INSAT-3D in July-August and GSAT-7 in December from our spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana, we are in discussions with ISRO for more missions from India on the lines of Saral, Spot-6 and Megha-Tropiques, satellites that were launched in the recent past,” Le Gall said ahead of his official meeting with ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

The 410 kg Saral was launched Feb 25 on board the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C20) from Indian spaceport Sriharikota off the Bay of Bengal in Andhra Pradesh, about 90 km from Chennai, to study the sea surface heights and the data generated will be shared by both the countries.

Saral was the third Indo-French collaborative mission after Spot-6 and Megha-Tropiques satellites that were launched from India Sep 12, 2012 and Oct 12, 2011.

Saral’s payloads Altika, an altimeter, will study the sea surface heights and Argos (advanced research and global observation satellite) will gather a variety of data from ocean buoys to animal behaviour.

“After Megha-Troiques was launched, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) scientists came to us to study climatic and atmospheric changes in the tropical regions. We have signed a tripartite agreement with ISRO and NASA to share the data,” Le Gall said.

Saral also complements joint missions of NASA and the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and that of CNES with the European Space Agency (ESA) for optimal utilisation of meteorological satellites.

As one of the most advanced and complex tropical weather and climate monitoring satellites, the one-tonne Megha-Tropiques investigates the tropical regions as they receive maximum energy from sun than they radiate back into space.

As the earth observational spacecraft, the 712 kg Spot-6 (Systeme Probatoire d’Observation de la Terre) is an optical imaging satellite with capability to take pictures of the planet with 1.5-metre resolution.

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