Friday

Peace with Pakistan: an idea whose time has passed


A leading Indian english language newspaper has chosen to begin 2010 by stirring up controversy. It has run a series of editorials advocating peace initiatives with Pakistan, despite the manifest unwillingness of Islamabad to punish the perpetrators of 26/11. What might have begun as a practical joke by the newspaper’s editorial staff has since acquired pretensions to seriousness.

The newspaper cites a dubious and unverifiable poll result, suggesting that most people in India and Pakistan strongly desire a resumption of peace talks between the two countries. Going by the reader response posted on the newspaper’s website, the poll was either poorly conducted or biased in its sampling. A very large number of Indians are in no hurry to forget Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism. Their reluctance to let bygones be bygones stems not from hostility towards Pakistan per se but rather, a natural instinct towards self-preservation.
It is no secret that even now; Pakistani terrorist groups are planning attacks in India on a scale that aims to surpass 26/11. One can be assured that if such an attack were to occur, Pakistani officials would first condemn it and then suggest that resolution of the Kashmir issue would prevent further attacks. There is a word for such double-edged statements: blackmail. The victim of wrongdoing is being made to feel that he is responsible for his own suffering, merely because he has failed to oblige the whims of the wrongdoer.
Ever since the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Pakistan has adopted a policy of killing Indian civilians to get what it previously failed to get through negotiations and war. From its perspective, Islamabad is being reasonable. It has offered the Indian government the option of surrender. Should India stand firm, Pakistan cannot be blamed for the hundreds more Indian lives that will be lost in terrorist attacks planned from its territory.
The fact that many Pakistanis attempt to rationalize this policy is understandable, if unfortunate. They are after all, captive to the propaganda of a rogue army that claims it is protecting them from an existentialist Indian threat. The same army did not hesitate to butcher three million Bengalis in 1971, conduct aerial bombing of Baluch nationalists in 1973, hang a democratically elected leader in 1979, support Sunni sectarian groups in terrorizing Shias after 1980 and topple civilian governments throughout the 1990s. Furthermore, the selective use of logic permits Pakistani intellectuals to advocate peace with India on one hand, while simultaneously asserting that there can be no compromise on Kashmir. Thus, while the ordinary people of Pakistan may want peace, it still has to be on the terms laid down by their army. Like hostages in a hijack situation, they suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome and believe in the rightness of their tormentors only because they have no choice. The people of Nazi Germany faced the same situation in the 1930s.
The Pakistani state today shares more in common with fascist dictatorships of yesteryears than with democratic India, yet Indian peace activists stress the similarity between the two peoples. In doing so, they fall prey to a common analytical failing known as mirror-imaging. Basically, what this means is that rather than make the intellectual effort of seeing the world from your enemy’s point of view, you merely assume that the enemy is no different from you. Whatever you would do is what the enemy can be expected to do. Conversely, anything that you would not do, the enemy would not do either. The weakness of this logic became apparent in 1999, when the Pakistan army unilaterally violated the Line of Control in Kargil, destroying the Lahore peace process initiated by India. Self-deception among the top Pakistan army brass had led them to believe that the aggression would be cost-free because ‘Indians have no stomach for a fight’. Hitler made a similar assumption in 1939, when he invaded Poland and triggered off World War II.
What are the similarities between India and Pakistan, which Indian peaceniks go on about? Other than ethnicity, food and to a lesser extent language, squat all. The two countries are on different political, cultural and economic trajectories. Since 1971, Pakistan has strived to reinvent itself as an Arab state, in order to draw the wider Islamic world into its fight against India. Wahabbi madrassas funded by Saudi petrodollars have metastasized across the country like a rampaging cancer. These madrassas stress the need for Pakistani society to regress back to the 7th century and the fundamentals of Islam (as interpreted by the Wahabbis only). They advocate medievalism over modernity. Liberal Sufi and Barelvi traditions are being replaced by religious orthodoxy that would be unrecognizable to anyone who lived in pre-partition India, when there was no Pakistani army and no Lashkar-e-Toiba. How can any peace process be durable unless Pakistani civil society first frees itself from these two terrorist groups (one in uniform, the other outside it)?
Economically, Pakistan has been a basket case since the mid 1990s. The country is dependent on foreign aid to make up for the financial deficits caused by its ever-expanding public sector i.e., the Pakistan army’s business empire. Land-grabbing by army officers is institutionalized in the form of grants awarded by generals to their favourite subordinates. A neo-colonial system of economic predation combined with a population explosion is pushing Pakistan back to the 18th century, while the Indian economy continues to liberalize and grow. Despite having a population seven times larger than its neighbour, India’s per capita income grew to exceed that of Pakistan in 2003 and the gap has since widened. From a purely business perspective, the argument for better relations with Pakistan simply does not make sense. Even the European Union is facing problems due to income disparities among its constituent states.
Why then, are some Indian journalists so keen to jump on the peace-making bandwagon, especially when Mumbai has eclipsed Kashmir as the ‘unresolved issue’ in Indo-Pak relations? Are they genuinely unable to differentiate between the tasks of reporting facts, formulating policy and providing light amusement? The ‘Aman ki Asha’ initiative by the Times of India and Jang media groups fails miserably on the first count, with its lack of empirical evidence and logical argument and resort to clich├ęs like ‘turning swords into ploughshares’. As regards influencing policy, flowery language is insufficient to dissuade Pakistan from supporting terrorist groups, as successive Indian prime ministers have learnt. All that the proposed peace initiative does is provide an example of the wordplay that appeasers engage in when they run out of arguments and have to keep talking.
Were it not for the insult which the authors of this initiative deliver to the memory of 70,000 Indians killed by Pak-sponsored terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir and elsewhere, their delusions would be laughable. Not only have they allowed themselves to be wined and dined into serving as ISI mouthpieces, but they also perniciously suggest that their views are shared by a majority of people. In the process, they forget that with each successive terrorist attack in India, a growing number of people have legitimate cause to hate Pakistan and all that it stands for. From the Akshardham Temple siege in 2002 to Mumbai in 2008, victims of the dead and injured lost any reason to support peace initiatives with a terrorist state. The same holds true for families of soldiers who died reclaiming the heights of Kargil. While harping about Pakistani hospitality, Indian peace activists could pause to consider the hospitality shown to Lt Saurav Kalia and his men for fifteen days in May 1999. Lest anyone argue that the actions of a few crazed jihadis do not represent the majority of Pakistanis, it must not be forgotten that their savagely mutilated bodies were returned to India by the Pakistan army, not Lashkar-e-Toiba.
There is a concerted effort on by interested third parties to create an impression that resumption of the peace process is ‘inevitable’. It is not. Even the most pacifist of Indian prime ministers have demonstrated a steely resolve on national security issues, such as V.P Singh in 1990 when he threatened to go to war if Pakistan intervened overtly in Kashmir. Similarly, in 1997 IK Gujral did not allow his dovish image to stop him from publicly shooting down a British attempt to mediate on Kashmir. Those who believe that New Delhi can be flattered or badgered into negotiating with a terrorist state only risk damaging their own relations with India. During the first few weeks of the Kargil war, there were the usual calls for restraint from Washington and London. These transformed into pressure on Pakistan only after India made clear that it would not negotiate under threat. Today, a similar message of firmness needs to be sent out.
Failure to do so would encourage the belief currently prevailing within the Pakistan army that its use of terrorists is a viable strategy. India has already made the biggest confidence building measure possible, by not retaliating to a single act of terrorism originating from Pakistan. ISI officials continue to plan terrorist attacks in India, knowing that they will not be targeted for assassination. Until November 2008, New Delhi remained on cordial terms with Islamabad, despite the urban bombing campaign by the so-called ‘Indian Mujahiddin’ (actually Lashkar-e-Toiba by another name). The Mumbai attacks broke this dynamic because Pakistan instead of reciprocating Indian goodwill, chose to ratchet up its proxy war. By sending Pakistani mercenaries to kill Indians under the cover of a non-existent terrorist group called ‘Deccan Mujahiddin’, the ISI overplayed its hand.
The fortuitous capture of Ajmal Kasab was a huge embarrassment for Pakistan. It initially attempted to bluff its way out by denying Kasab’s nationality, just as it had previously done with its soldiers in Kargil. In the first few hours after the attack, Indian media coverage only mentioned that the attackers had Pakistani links, without suggesting that they were state-sponsored. Islamabad responded to this restraint by claiming it was being made a scapegoat for India’s homegrown terrorist problem. Pakistani blame-shifting and obfuscation was what led to a hardening of Indian public opinion, not inflammatory media coverage. For some Indian journalists to now believe that their role in reporting the truth amounted to war-mongering, suggests a lack of professional integrity. They condemn jingoism while forgetting that excessive sentimentalism is equally dangerous.
Rather than preaching about the need for Indians and Pakistanis not to be held hostage by history, peace activists could first study that history in order to explain how it differs in any meaningful way from the present. Specifically, are they in any position to provide an assurance to their readers, on whose behalf they claim to speak, that Pakistan will convict those responsible for the Mumbai attacks? Instead of setting overly ambitious goals of freeing two countries from hatred, the Indian and Pakistani media could first combine forces to free 54 Indian Prisoners of War, being illegally held captive by Pakistan. If, as the initiators of the ‘Aman ki Asha’ farce claim, they are motivated by humanitarian considerations, they can set up forums for common people in both countries to denounce Lashkar-e-Toiba and its supporters. Only then will they command any credibility as representatives of popular opinion.
Other initiatives could include asking the Pakistani government to shut down terrorist training camps, extradite Dawood Ibrahim, prosecute Hafeez Saeed, stop blocking Indian attempts to join the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and stop ganging up with China to thwart India’s bid for a UN Security Council seat. Forward movement by Islamabad in even one of these areas would constitute a solid foundation for re-starting peace talks and would be more than reciprocated by India. Absence of any progress on the other hand, would demonstrate that the Pakistani desire for good relations extends only to cultivating Indian opinion-makers through fine food and paid holidays.
Evidence of such intellectual subversion already exists, in the form of arguments that a ’stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest’. Which Pakistan are these people talking about? The one that colonized Afghanistan in the 1990s while ostensibly seeking strategic depth and then further trying to extend its influence into Central Asia or the one that regularly diverts foreign aid money towards building up its India-centric war machine, or the one that survives on a narco-trafficking industry whose annual turnover equals 25 percent of the nation’s own GDP? Anyone who believes that a strong Pakistan would be a responsible state needs to read Michael Scheuer’s book Imperial Hubris. Scheuer, a former CIA analyst, describes the period 2000-2001 as representing a ‘golden moment’ for the Pakistani military elite. India was on the defensive in Kashmir and Afghanistan was firmly under the control of the Taliban. A quick review of Indian Home Ministry statistics for these years would reveal how many Indians died in terrorist attacks by Pakistan-based groups during the ‘golden moment’.
Rather than emulate the condescending arrogance of Western writers, who insist on bracketing India with Pakistan, would-be peaceniks should first come to terms with reality. They equate India with Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, without regard for the fact that Pakistan is a victim of its own terrorist-sponsoring policy, while India is a victim of proxy warfare. The two situations are not comparable on any level. Making any further peace overtures to Pakistan, without meaningful progress on the Mumbai investigations, would be tantamount to political suicide for whichever party tried it. Subversive propaganda such as ‘Aman ki Asha’ would not change the facts of the situation, only the way policymakers perceive them, to their own detriment.
is a strategic affairs analyst at a leading think-tank, based in Western Europe









Thursday

Pakistan Problem Solution


Dr Amarjit Singh
Dr. Amarjit Singh is a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Risat-1 'Spy Satellite' Launched


In 2009, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched the RISAT-2, a spy satellite acquired from Israel for $110 million. In the last week of April this year, ISRO successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, its first indigenously produced “spy satellite” RISAT-1, aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C19. It inserted the 1,858-kg radar imaging satellite into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 kilometres and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees. The mission was proclaimed to be a grand success. RISAT-1 has day and night capability and can see through cloud cover or any other atmospheric obscurity. Orbiting the Earth 14 times a day, it will give India continuous surveillance capability. Meant primarily for a number of civilian applications, the all-weather surveillance tool can also function as a “spy satellite”. RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions of about one metre. It has a mission life of five years.
Here are the top 10 facts on RISAT-1:

1. Weighing at 1858 Kg, RISAT-1 is the heaviest satellite ever launched by India.
 
2. It was powered by a 321 tonne rocket, the most powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
 

3. This is the third time that ISRO used a PSLV-XL (Extra Large) rocket. It was first used in October 2008 to put Chandrayaan-1 in orbit and again in July 2011 during the communication satellite GSAT-12 launch.

4. The indigenously made satellite has day and night viewing capacity and will not be blinded by cloud cover. 
 
5. RISAT-1 will help in crop monitoring and flood forecasting. It will give India the ability for continuous surveillance.

6. The satellite carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode to provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions. It has a best resolution of up to 1 m

7. It has taken ISRO 10 years to make this sophisticated satellite. So far PSLV has consecutive 19 successful launches. 
 
8. The total cost of mission is about 
Rs. 500 crores. While the cost of the rocket is about Rs. 120 crores, the satellite costs around Rs. 380 crores. However, none of them are insured.
 
9. The project Director N Valarmathi, is the first woman to head a remote sensing satellite project, and the second to be the satellite project director at ISRO.
 
10. Apart from RISAT-1, India already has another spy satellite RISAT-2 acquired from Israel which was launched in 2009.

The indigenously built RISAT-1, with a life span of five years, will be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry. The high resolution pictures and microwave imaging from RISAT-1 could also be used for defence purposes as it can look through the clouds and fog.

At 5.47 a.m., the rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C19 (PSLV-C19) - standing 44.5 metres tall and weighing 321 tonnes and with a one-way ticket, hurtled towards the skies ferrying the 1,858 kg RISAT-1 after unshackling itself from launch pad No.1.

The ISRO-made RISAT-1 is the heaviest luggage so far ferried by a PSLV since 1993.

At around 17 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C19 delivered RISAT-1 into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 km and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees.

ISRO, with its network of ground stations, monitored its health.

"PSLV-C19 mission is a grand success. This is the 20th successive successful flight of PSLV. India's first radar imaging satellite was injected precisely into orbit," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said after the launch. "With this launch India joins a select group of nations like the US, Canada, Europe and others to have such an advanced technology. It is a 30 year effort," he added.

"With RISAT-1 we can now forecast Kharif season," Dr Radhakrishnan said.

According to satellite director N. Valarmathi, RISAT-1 can take images in all weather conditions and during day and night. "The satellite has high storage device and other several unique features," she added.

For ISRO, this is the first launch this fiscal as well as in the calendar year.

According to Dr Radhakrishnan, the Indian space agency is planning couple of more satellite launches - communication and remote sensing satellites - this year. He said the space agency would launch a communication satellite weighing 3.5 tonne through the Ariane rocket from French Guiana and two PSLV missions were scheduled for later this year. ISRO will also send SARAL satellite - an Indo-French initiative - using its PSLV rocket from Sriharikota. There will also be the launch of first Indian regional navigational satellite this fiscal.

Speaking about the status of the space agency's heavy rocket - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) - that can carry communication satellites, Dr Radhakrishnan said the advanced rocket GSLV Mark III has crossed several milestones and an experimental flight will be made in a year from now.

He said the experimental flight will be to test the rocket systems in the atmospheric flight phase.

The Indian made cryogenic engine is also undergoing several tests.

Meanwhile, the solar panes of RISAT-1 were deployed successfully soon after it was injected into the orbit.

According to Dr Radhakrishan, in three days time the satellite will be taken up to its intended orbit at an altitude of 536 km by firing the on-board motors.

Remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data for use. India has the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions, from more than a metre ranging up to 500 metres, and is a major player in vending such data in the global market.

With 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in the space, India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market. The 11 satellites are TES, Resourcesat-1, Cartosat-1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS-1, Risat-2, Oceansat-2, Resourcesat-2 and Megha-Tropiques.

RISAT-1's synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can acquire data in C-band and would orbit the earth 14 times a day.

In 2009, ISRO had launched 300 kilogram Risat-2 with an Israeli-built radar enabling earth observation in all weather, day and night conditions.

With Thursday's launch the PSLV rocket has launched successfully 53 satellites out of 54 it carried - majorly remote sensing/earth observation satellites both Indian and foreign - and has been a major revenue earner for ISRO.

The one failure happened in 1993 when the satellite was not able reach the orbit.

The rocket that delivered RISAT-1 in the space is ISRO's four stage PSLV's upgraded variant called PSLV-XL.

The letters XL stand for extra-large as the six strap-on motors hugging the rocket at the bottom can carry 12 tonnes of solid fuel as against the base version that has a fuel capacity of nine tonnes.

The PSLV's four stages are fuelled with solid and liquid propellants. The first and third stages are fuelled by solid fuel, while the second and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel.

ISRO had used the PSLV-XL variant for its Chandrayaan-1 moon mission in 2008 and for launching the GSAT-12 communications satellite in 2011.

GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) Launched


GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN)
GAGAN is the name of Indian version of US's WAAS ( Wide-Area Augmentation system ). Once GAGAN is available, users who have WASS-compatible receivers will be able to get GPS position with accuracy of roughly 1 meter or better. GAGAN is not a replacement for the GPS system but an extension that will make US's GPS more accurate over India and thus can be used for many high-precision applications.

A S Ganeshan

Project Director, Navigation Systems,
ISRO Satellite Centre

What is the origin of the name ‘GAGAN’?

As you are aware GPS meets most of the navigation requirements of users. However, to improve the performance and integrity of the GPS system and to meet civil aviation requirements, the basic GPS system is to be augmented by GEO satellite with corrections and confi dences. Hence, the name GAGAN which is an acronym for GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation System was chosen. Gagan is a Hindi word of Sanskrit origin for the sky and aptly suits the project.

We are expected to have a certified GAGAN by 2013. How close are we to this?

With the completion of installation, integration and testing of all ground elements, the major requirements of facility certifi cation has been completed. The integration of GEO satellites with the ground elements and other aspects related to certifi cations have been taken up. The system is expected to be certified by the 3rd quarter of 2013. The GAGAN will be certifi ed by DGCA to provide NPA (Non Precision Approach) services of RNP-0.1over Indian FIR (Flight Information Region) and PA (Precision Approach) service of APV- 1.0/APV-1.5 over Indian landmass.

What are the user segments going to be benefitted by GAGAN?

Even though GAGAN is being developed primarily for civil aviation applications over Indian region, it is expected to provide enhanced service level to the user segments like, Agriculture, Emergency response, Business solutions, Geographical data collection, Natural resources, Land management, Scientifi c research, Geodynamics ,Urban Mapping, Unmanned vehicles, Vehicle tracking, Air navigation, Car navigation, Maritime applications, Search And Rescue Operations, GIS, Timing applications, Canal Transit Management, etc In short, it is expected to replace the GPS receivers and provide data integrity. Also, GAGAN will aid the DGPS users with minimum change, risk and cost.

What is the reach of GAGAN going to be and how other countries will be able to utilize its services?

The GAGAN system intends to deploy and certify an operational Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for the Indian Flight Information Region (FIR), with expansion capability to neighboring FIRs. When commissioned for service, GAGAN will provide a civil aeronautical navigation signal consistent with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and Recommended Practices (SARP) as established by the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Panel. The neighboring countries can utilize GAGAN system by having reference stations within their country. As the GAGAN GEO foot print extends from Middle East Asia to Australia, the augmentation can be provided over this region using GAGAN system. GAGAN will bridge the gap between Europe (served by EGNOS) and Japan (served by MSAS).

What is the role of private sector in the development of GAGAN?

Navigation projects have created awareness among the Public Sector Undertaking and Indian industries and they have been contributing to GAGAN projects. To name a few, ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Limited) was responsible for designing and development of 11 meter antennae installed at INLUS (Indian Land Uplink Station). Accord Software is developing GAGAN and IRNSS receivers. Software development of INLUS RFU (Radio Frequency Unit) systems will require the participation of software companies capable of developing DO-178B compliant software. Many other industries are involved in various subsystems of Navigation projects. Even though the Indian private sector participation is limited in the development of GAGAN, there is tremendous scope for the industry to develop user segment equipments for the GAGAN system. The industries need to come up innovative solution to meet diverse user positioning and timing requirements. Also, hand in hand there is a need to develop applications suiting Indian conditions and requirements using GAGAN signals especially in the areas of survey, intelligent transportation systems, location based systems, disaster management, maritime etc.

What are your plans to create awareness among prospective users of GAGAN?

GNSS user meet is planned to be jointly organized by ISRO and AAI on February 23rd 2012 at ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore. This will be a platform where all the parties involved in Navigation will interact and prospective users will greatly benefit. The plan is to conduct such meets at regular intervals to ensure that the benefit of GAGAN utilization is maximized.

How interoperable is GAGAN going to be with other SBAS systems?

The functional performance of GAGAN will meet the accuracy, integrity, continuity and availability requirements specified for aviation by ICAO. The system will be inter-operable with other international SBAS systems like US-WAAS, European EGNOS, and Japanese MSAS etc and provide seamless air navigation across regional boundaries utilizing same signal frequency.

Interference and jamming with satellite signals are becoming major threats. How serious such threats are in the context of GAGAN?

The threat to GAGAN signals is similar in nature to any other GNSS system

India Building World's Biggest Solar Telescope

 India is inching closer towards building the world’s largest solar telescope in Ladakh on the foothills of the Himalayas that aims to study the sun’s microscopic structure.
The National Large Solar Telescope (NLST) project has gathered momentum with a global tender floated for technical and financial bidding by the Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA).
The tender that was floated last week calls for expression of interest (EoI) to design, manufacture andinstall the two-metre class solar telescope at a cost of Rs 150 crore (around $31 million).
“The solar telescope will help study the microscopic structure of the sun and derive specific observations that are speculative in nature,” IIA director, Mr Siraj Hasan, told IANS here.
Solar telescopes are special-purpose scientific instruments used to study the sun. They are among the biggest fixed telescopes and are equipped with an optical flat mirror system to track the sun rays and direct them on to the telescope.
The sun is the star at the centre of the solar system. Three quarters of the sun’s mass consists of hydrogen and the rest is helium. Less than two percent consists of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon and iron.
The unique project involves other scientific organisations such as the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational-Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Inter-University Centre. The IIA will be the nodal agency.
“The pre-technical discussion meeting will be held in October,” Mr Hasan said.
Though the 10-metre optical telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii is the largest, the Indian instrument will be the largest among solar telescopes.
Currently, the world’s largest solar telescope is the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope, with a diameter of 1.6 metres in Kitt Peak National Observatory at Arizona in the US.
“The larger the diameter and larger the surface available to absorb sunlight, the more rays can be collected per second, enabling researchers to collect data with greater clarity and obtain accurate results,” Hasan noted.
The solar telescope can study particles, which are spread across 50 km on the sun.
“A suitable site has been identified at Merak village near Pangong Lake,” Hasan pointed out. The village is situated in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Initially, three sites – at Hanle and Leh in the Ladakh region and Devasthal near Nainital, Uttarakhand – were explored to set up the telescope.
The proposed telescope, which will be used to observe the sun during the day, will need a location with long hours of clear sunshine and clean visible conditions.

India's Mission To Mars

India's proposed Mars mission in November next year would boost its credentials to take part in possible international collaborative ventures on exploring the Red Planet.

"Besides doing it on its own, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will obviously be roped in an international team, including the United States, Europe and other countries (in possible international missions to Mars in future)", former  ISRO Chairman K Kasturirangan, told PTI in Bangalore.

"And so we will have our own credentials to participate effectively in those (possible international) missions (in future)", he said, adding, ISRO's Mars mission next year would qualify the space agency for future missions of international character.


He said several countries would mount several programmes which ultimately make very effective means of exploring Mars in synergy. "If you want to do that, you need several of these elements out of which ISRO's search through its own spacecraft will be one of those elements".

Mr Kasturirangan said Mars missions by different countries are trying to look at areas for landing, search for life, Martian composition and surface dynamics and other kinds of indicators.

"So you need quite a lot (of explorations). Ultimately, we are in-situ not there (on Mars). You need explorations before taking decisions", he added.

According to ISRO officials, the cost of the Mars orbiter mission isRs. 450 crore. The venture's main objective is to demonstrate India's technological capability to reach Martian orbit and it would pave the way for future scientific exploratory missions.

The Mars orbiter is planned for launch using India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
After a successful moon mission, the Union Cabinet gave the go-ahead to India's first mission to Mars. The Cabinet, at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, cleared the proposal of Department of Space to put a satellite in an orbit around Mars to study the Red Planet, sources said.

If the mission succeeds, India will be the sixth country to do so after US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is expected to launch a Mars Orbiter as early as November next year with a 25kg scientific payload. A rocket will blast off from the south-eastern coast of India, dropping the satellite into deep space, which will then travel onto Mars to achieve orbit, a senior scientist said. ISRO scientists expect the satellite to orbit at less than 100 km (62 miles) above Mars.
The Rs. 450-crore mission is expected to be launched from India's spaceport - Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh - and will take nearly 300 days to reach the Martian orbit.

The Mars mission, which will study its atmosphere, will be launched by an extended version of ISRO's warhorse rocket - the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). 

If the ISRO fails to launch the Mars Mission next year, other opportunities are available in 2016 and 2018. The orbiter will be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars and has a tentative scientific objective for studying the climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life on the planet.

Scientific payloads have been short-listed by ISRO's Advisory Committee for Space Sciences (ADCOS) review committee.

Baseline, solar array and reflector configuration of the satellite have been finalised. 

The plan has drawn criticism in a country suffering from high levels of malnutrition and power shortages. But India has long argued that technology developed in its space programme has practical applications to everyday life.

India's space exploration programme began in 1962. Four years ago, its Chandrayaan satellite found evidence of water on the moon. India is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the Moon in 2014.

Last year, a Chinese Russian probe failed in a bid to send a satellite to Mars.
The November 2013 launch would allow the spacecraft to enter a highly elliptical orbit of 500 km x 80,000 km around Mars in September 2014. The proposed payload of 25 kg consists of ten instruments, including:
  • Probe For Infrared Spectroscopy for Mars (Prism)
  • Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer (Menca)
  • "TIS" instrument (thermal emissions)
  • Mars Color Camera (MCC)
  • Methane Sensor For Mars (MSM)
  • Mars Radiation Spectrometer (Maris)
  • Plasma and Current Experiment (Pace)