, India — The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a remote sensing satellite in January 2008 that will be equipped with two cameras intended to provide free imagery to universities and research organizations in developing countries throughout the world.

The only cost to participating nations will be the purchase of 3.7-meter dish antennas to receive the data, D.V.A. Raghavamurthy, ISRO director of small satellite projects, told Space News Sept. 28 on the sidelines of the 58th International Astronautical Congress that concluded Sept. 28.

The Third World Satellite (TWSAT), which is designed to orbit at an altitude of 632 kilometers, weighs only 100 kilograms due to miniaturization of payloads. It will have an operational lifetime of about three years, he said.

One of the satellite’s sensors will have a ground resolution of about 36 meters across, which means objects that size or larger can be identified in the images. The imagery is intended to be used for research, mapping and disaster management. The other camera will produce images with a resolution of 500 meters and a ground swath of 128 kilometers, Raghavamurthy said. The satellite will be controlled from Bangalore.

The TWSAT is the first of a series of micro- and minisatellites ISRO is planning to launch in the next five years, said R.M. Samudraiah of the ISRO Space Application Centre in Ahmedabad.

The microsatellites have a mass of about 100 kilograms, with a planned payload capacity of about 30 kilograms and 20 watts of available power. The mini-satellites will have a mass of about 450 kilograms with a payload capacity of 200 kilograms and available power of about 200 watts, Raghavamurthy said.

According to Samudraiah, ISRO will set up a constellation of three microsatellites for agriculture resource monitoring. These will carry sensors operating in six bands with 20-meter resolution and with revisits over the same area possible every five days.

Samudraiah said ISRO also plans to have a constellation of three mini satellites to generate daily information on oceans.

In addition, ISRO, along with Indian universities, wants to build and launch microsatellites to measure aerosol and trace gases globally with an emphasis on the South Asia and Southeast Asian regions.

A mission for study of Earth’s near- space environment is being considered with a constellation of two minisatellites, Samudraiah said. One more microsatellite called Youthsat will be built along with Moscow University and launched in 2009, he said.

said the Indo-French mission, called Saral, will use ISRO’s 450-kilogram satellite bus. It will carry two instruments supplied by the French space agency CNES that are designed to study ocean circulation and sea surface elevation. “The Saral satellite is planned for launch by the end of 2009,” he said.