— The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the French space agency, CNES, have agreed to provide the global scientific community free access to data from MeghaTropiques environmental satellite, according to an ISRO announcement.

MeghaTropiques is an Indo- French mission scheduled for launch in 2009 for tropical weather monitoring. The ISRO-built satellite platform will carry three main payloads: a microwave scanning radiometer developed jointly by CNES and ISRO to monitor rainfall; a CNES-built microwave sensor for taking vertical profiles of atmospheric humidity; and an Earth radiation budget sensor, also supplied by CNES.

Data from the satellite is expected to enhance understanding of tropical weather phenomena including the monsoons.

A July 7 ISRO press release said the decision to share MeghaTropiques data with climate researchers worldwide was taken at a meeting of the ISRO-CNES Joint Working Group held at Goa, India, July 5-6 to review the progress of on going collaborative programs. The meeting was hosted by ISRO Chairman GopalanMadhavan Nair and CNES President Yannickd’Escatha.

ISRO said the meeting also reviewed the status of Saral, a small oceanography satellite featuring payloads supplied by CNES hosted aboard an ISRO- built platform. The satellite will carry a Ka-band ocean-surface altimeter and a payload to relay data from Argo, a global array of some 3,000 free-drifting floats that measure water temperatures and salinity.

“The altimeter data will provide support in coastal environment studies, estuarine, bathymetry and preparedness towards Tsunami disaster,” the release said. Saral is slated to launch at the end of 2009.

The release said that as part of future collaboration, ISRO and CNES have agreed to pool their technical and scientific strengths “to evolving and establishing innovative operational space systems in addressing issues related to the tropical weather and climate.”

The Mega Tropiques satellite will be launched aboard an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle into an orbit with an altitude of and an inclination of 22 degrees. This orbit is designed to maximize coverage of the tropics.