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ISRO PSLV-C47 launched

Topics Covered:

Awareness in space.

ISRO PSLV-C47 launched

What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Overview of the PSLV- C47 launch, about Cartosat series, different orbits and difference between GSLV and PSLV.

Context: India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C47 has launched Cartosat-3 and 13 commercial nanosatellites into Sun Synchronous orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

Key facts:

  1. This is the first commercial order to put into orbit 13 American nanosatellites for NewSpace India, which was formed only in March 2019.
  2. PSLV-C47 is the 21st flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with 6 solid strap-on motors).
  3. This will be the 74th launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota.

What is Cartosat-3?

It is a third-generation agile advanced earth observation satellite with high-resolution imaging capability.

Developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), it will replace the IRS series.

It will be placed in an orbit of 509 km at an inclination of 97.5 degree.

Till date, eight Cartosats have been launched by ISRO.


Cartosat-3 has a panchromatic resolution of 0.25 metres making it the imaging satellite with highest resolution and Mx of 1 metre with a high-quality resolution, which is a major improvement from the previous payloads in the Cartosat series.


Cartosat-3 could be potentially used for weather mapping and cartography. It aims to address the increased demands for large scale urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover.

What is PSLV?

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is an indigenously-developed expendable launch system of the ISRO.

It comes in the category of medium-lift launchers with a reach up to various orbits, including the Geo Synchronous Transfer Orbit, Lower Earth Orbit, and Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.

All the operations of PSLV are controlled from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota.

Difference between PSLV and GSLV:

India has two operational launchers- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

  1. PSLV was developed to launch low-Earth Orbit satellites into polar and sun synchronous orbits. It has since proved its versatility by launching geosynchronous, lunar and interplanetary spacecraft successfully.
  2. On the other hand, GSLV was developed to launch the heavier INSAT class of geosynchronous satellites into orbit. In its third and final stage, GSLV uses the indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage.

Different orbits:

There are three main types of Earth orbits- high Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit and low Earth orbit. Which orbit a particular satellite is placed in depends on its function.

  1. When satellites are about 36,000 km from the Earth’s surface, they enter what is called the high Earth orbit. Here, it orbits in sync with the Earth’s rotation, crating the impression that the satellite is stationary over a single longitude. Such a satellite is said to be geosynchronous.
  2. Just as the geosynchronous satellites have a sweet spot over the equator that allows them to stay over one spot on Earth, polar-orbiting satellites have a sweet spot that allows them to stay in one time. This orbit is a Sun-synchronous orbit, which means that whenever and wherever the satellite crosses the equator, the local solar time on the ground is always the same.

Sources: the Hindu.