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India’s own navigation system goes live with IRNSS-1G launch


India is set to get its own version of Global Positioning System (GPS) called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), after the launch of the 7th IRNSS satellite by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) yesterday. The new satellite—IRNSS-1G—completes the entire cluster of the independent regional navigation system, which was first initiated in July 2013.

ISRO claims that the IRNSS is designed to provide position information of the entire country and around 1500km around the Indian mainland (boundaries). It also claims that the IRNSS will offer accurate position information to users in India with a position accuracy of better than 20 metres in these areas. A ground facility has also been setup by ISRO across 18 different locations in the country, which will be responsible for satellite ranging and monitoring, generation and transmission of navigation parameters, etc.,

The IRNSS-1G is the seventh navigation satellite to be launched out of the 7 satellites constituting the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. ISRO says that IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID, IE and 1F,  the first 6 satellites of the project, were  launched in July 2013, April 2014, October 2014, March 2015, January 2016 and March 2016, respectively.

Services: The IRNSS will offer two type of services namely Standard Positioning Services for all users and Restricted Services (RS) which will be provided only to authorized users. Other applications of IRNSS include aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, Mining and Surveying and other Mapping operations.

Gagan project :  Gagan (GPS aided geo augmented navigation) project is a regional satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) jointly developed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) and ISRO. The service was expected to provide navigation data for India, Bay of Bengal, South-East Asia and Middle East region, but mainly for navigation, surveillance/Air Traffic Management system over Indian airspace.

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Bhuvan project: The Bhuvan project is ISRO’s Google-earth like satellite mapping tool with features like Open Source mapping data, disaster management, state viewer, online shape file creation, 2D enhancement tools , and GIS Viewer. The services are accessible through a mobile website and an Android app as well.  It is not clear if the Bhuvan project will be integrated with IRNSS to enhance navigation capabilities, which seems like an ideal application.

Other countries: The US government has the GPS (Global Positioning System) and Russia has its own satellite-based navigation service called GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema). China had also launched a navigation service called BeiDou in December 2012, which covers the Asia-Pacific region while the European Union and the European Space Agency is also building a satellite navigation system called Galileo.

Other updates from ISRO  

-In February, ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar had announced that the agency plans to make satellite data as recent as 6 months old, available to users for free. As of now, the agency only allows access to data 2 years and older for free.

– In the same month, Delhi Police said that it would start using a ‘predictive policing’ mechanism in partnership with the ISRO. The system will help crime control and law and order and security management through analysis of relevant data and patterns.

– Last month, the Union Cabinet had given its nod for the procurement of launch equipment and other services for the GSAT-11 spacecraft, which shall help provide broadband to rural areas through satellite-based VSAT technology.

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