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Space Science

India Launches World's First Stereo Imaging Satellite 339

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the zombies-look-so-real-in-three-dee dept.
sgups writes "India will tomorrow inaugurate a new launch pad at its Satish Dhawan space port near Chennai, on the south-east coast, by putting the world's first stereographic mapping satellite into orbit. The most innovative feature of the 1.6-tonne Cartosat-1 is its pair of cameras, which will give stereo images of the earth's surface that can distinguish features down to 2.5 metres across. They will directly generate three-dimensional maps that have until now been achievable only indirectly, by combining data from a large number of satellite passes over the same place. "Such a stereographic imaging system does not exist in the civil sector anywhere else," says Mr Nair, chairman of the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). "It will give information about heights that will be very useful in applications such as planning power lines." Cartosat-1 will join what is already the world's largest cluster of non-military remote sensing satellites. Six Indian spacecraft are already observing the earth with a wide range of instruments."
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India Launches World's First Stereo Imaging Satellite

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  • by ackthpt (218170) *
    3D from Space with 2.5m resolution. You could...
    • See your house from anywhere!
    • Get cool 3D images of Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Everest, Uluru, etc.
    • Map for video game use
    • See who keeps sneaking their $&^%@ trash into your can.
    • See volcanoes, jets taking off/landing, tsunamis, etc.
    • Conduct industrial/military espionage at an all new level!
    • Watch W. squirm, trying to talk the indians how they should run it, what they should and shouldn't be looking at, etc. (probably done behind close doors, all hus
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:16PM (#12434292)
    But HIFI stereo, which means it has the highest level of fidelity available. It also sports an 8-track.
  • by LouCifer (771618) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:17PM (#12434310)
    ...will be off-shored to China.

  • by robslimo (587196) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:18PM (#12434325) Homepage Journal
    do the cameras have to be to get a proper parallax?
    • Exactly what I was thinking. At 650km, exactly how high of resolution do 2 cameras, say 1 meter apart, need to be in order to distinguish a 1 meter tall object from a 2 meter tall object? And is a 1 meter vertical resolution even all that useful for much more than cross-city or cross-county gradients and such.

      Seems to me that 2 satellites on the same orbit, say 10 deg (about 0.17 radians) apart from each other ... an arc length of about 1190 km could do a much better job with lower resolution cameras. A 10
    • by G4from128k (686170) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:43PM (#12434573)
      Getting proper parallax from 620 km is a bit tricky. The cameras would need to be many km apart to get good stereo (31 km camera baseline is equivalent to the parallax that human eyes have at 1 meter).

      Instead, I suspect that the parallax is achieved by having two cameras that point slightly different angles. One points down and forward along the track of the satellite, the other points down and backward. Thus, as the satellite passes overhead, the same spot on the ground is seen by the two cameras in succession from different parts of the orbit.

      For purposes of get topo data on fixed objects, its more than adequate. Given that the satellite is moving about 8 km/sec, it traverses the needed baseline for stereo in only a few seconds. This is not enough time for the scene to have changed that much.
      • by robslimo (587196)
        Thanks. It seems you're right. It was in there in the specs I linked, but they didn't come right out and say it. Had a little trouble wrapping my mind around it, but it makes good sense.
  • Heights? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Neil Blender (555885) <neilblender@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:19PM (#12434330)
    Uh, can't they already determine heights to high degree of accuracy with GPS or other radio wave methods? How would a picture be more accurate?
    • not just that but I thought there were already decently accurate cartographic maps of pretty much the whole world. Cant they use those when they plan power lines?
    • Re:Heights? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NanoGator (522640)
      "Uh, can't they already determine heights to high degree of accuracy with GPS or other radio wave methods?"

      Yes, but they're not passive. You either have to send an energy wave down or somebody holding a GPS unit. This satellite could get that data passively.

      "How would a picture be more accurate?"

      I didn't RTFA so I don't know the context of the word 'Accurate'. I can tell you, though, that I've seen stereoscopic images taken from airplanes travelling over .. uh.. bombing targets. The imagery was am
    • No (Score:3, Informative)

      by briancnorton (586947)
      GPS altitude is not very accurate, (could easily be off by 10+ meters) but that's not the point. If you need to get accurate relative elevations, you need stereo or radar/lidar. Stereo is VERY accurate, but very labor intensive and you get elevations off the tops of trees, not the ground. (makes a big difference when putting up a power line) Radar penetrates, but is very expensive and technically sophisticated to build and process, and you can end up with a LOT of wierd artifacts. LIDAR is VERY ACCURAT
    • Uh, can't they already determine heights to high degree of accuracy with GPS or other radio wave methods? How would a picture be more accurate?

      Because getting the 3D measurements from a sattelite versus getting it from a person on the ground are two completely different things.

      They're talking about being able to get detailed elevation maps in a single pass by the sattelite.

      You're suggesting sending some poor sod to the ends of the Earth to meticulously map out elevations and locations.

      The sattelite is

    • becasue the GPS system doesn't spy on Pakistan.
    • By not having to go and stand there?
    • Re:Heights? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Uh, can't they already determine heights to high degree of accuracy with GPS or other radio wave methods?

      Yes.

      How would a picture be more accurate?

      Well, among the most accurate topographical maps available are from the Shuttle Radar Topography [usgs.gov] mission, which gave us the entire earth at roughly 30-m resolution, with a height precision of about 16 meters.

      India's new satellite has 2.5-meter resolution, and its vertical accuracy after proper stereoscopic matching would be of the same order of magnitude so
  • I don't get (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:19PM (#12434331)
    I don't get. If it's not a geosync, then it's going to be moving, so they could just use 2 images from a few seconds apart to get the required images. No?

    • Perhaps they want a stereoscopic view from any orientation, not just along the satelite's path.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:23PM (#12434369)
      crap we hadn't thought of that..

      -India
    • Re:I don't get (Score:4, Insightful)

      by soupdevil (587476) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:26PM (#12434394)
      Any idea how fast a satellite moves in "a few seconds?" You'd have to be taking huge images in order to have them correlate individual features a few feet across.
    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:27PM (#12434404) Journal
      Ever known an engineer to use a simple strategy when a complex one would suffice?

      Any ham-radio enthusiast can make one of those. A stereographic mapping satellite, on the other hand, is engineer-grade.
    • shhhhh..... :)

      Actually I'm guessing they are two lenses far apart that are angled so they center on the same point on earth. Of course the angle will be so freaking small that they will probabably screw it up. Your method would work too assuming camera is taking a wide enough shot (its possible that camera is orbiting fast enough that looking in same direction second shot even milliseconds after first shot would lead to all objects from first shot being out of view.
    • Re:I don't get (Score:2, Interesting)

      by robslimo (587196)
      It has been done [uni-hannover.de] (pdf) with images from Space Imaging's sats, so I'm still a bit in the dark as to what 2 cameras buys the Indians (there must be something, eh?).
    • No?

      No. :)

      That won't work because the single camera will be pointing at a different place when the second shot is taken. but in the Cartosat setup, the cameras are angled such that Camera 2 is pointing at the same place that Camera 1 was pointing x seconds ago, x being the time between the two cameras firing.

  • And how many countries have the capability? That's what I want to know.
  • Geologic Mapping (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tectomorph (844828)
    Stereoscopic imagery is great for mapping geology. Most stereo photos are not shot at a small enough scale to do regional mapping so this could be wonderful. Hopefully the data will be easily obtainable and the coverage will be suitable to do broad-scale work.
  • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:24PM (#12434379) Journal
    I'm going to assume the satellite designers knew what they were doing and there is some good reason for this.

    That said, given the resolution with which we know the position of a given satellite, and the low resolution of the source image in this case, what advantage does using two cameras give you, vs. taking one camera and snapping two pictures in quick succession?

    Maybe they can't be snapped quickly enough? But then, you'd think the larger parallax would be helpful, not harmful.) I know consumer cameras have the basic tech now to take a snapshot of the CCD state and process it later, that tech ought to scale right with the CCD resolution, whatever it is.

    Maybe this is so you can choose the parallax direction, instead of the orbit forcing your choice? Does the image processing need the parallax to show up in some particular direction relative to the light source to work?

    Honest questions; knowledgeable answers appreciated. (As you can see, I can talk out of my ass too :-), I'm looking for something a little more informed.)
    • Why two cameras needed?

      I didn't have anything to do with the design of this, but I have to assume that two cameras are necessary because you'd have to tilt the camera otherwise. Normally, a satcam is pointed straight down. If you get two images a few meters apart, you can't derive much z-axis data from them. With the cameras tilted so that they converge at the approximate height of the sat, you can derive z-axis information and work out the height of items on the ground.

      Of course, you don't *need* two
    • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:26PM (#12435078)
      what advantage does using two cameras give you, vs. taking one camera and snapping two pictures in quick succession?

      For a parallel example, try to take a picture of the ground from a moving vehicle at 10mph. To get a decently clear and detailed picture, your film speed would have to be high. Now try to get a stereographic image of an ant hill from overhead while moving from a vehicle at 10mph. With one camera you'd have to take fast pictures and move the camera angle without motion blur. As an alternative you could take one picture, change the angle, and pass over the ant hill a second time.

      Applying those techniques to satellite imagery doesn't work well. The satellite can't rotate fast enough considering how fast it is passing over a target area. Using 2 passes does work but that unfortunately expends fuel to change the position of the satellite every time. So the lifetime of the satellite is sharply reduced unless it is serviced in space. Rarely are satellites ever serviced. Those that are serviced (Hubble, ISS, etc) have to be extremely important.

    • I know jack shit about this but I'll take my chances..

      It could be because of tech used in cameras. Some CCD's can take image 'fast' (and as satellite is moving fast, shutter time must be very short) but cannot transfer data off-sensor fast enough. So they would need two sensors to launch at a slightly different time. These are also likely big sensors.

      Insofar that I understand this, tilting same sensor wouldn't achieve much, as earth is far, far away below, and difference in angle wouldn't really accomp

    • That said, given the resolution with which we know the position of a given satellite, and the low resolution of the source image in this case, what advantage does using two cameras give you, vs. taking one camera and snapping two pictures in quick succession?

      Because the two pictures you take of this place would not be from two different angles, which is needed for stereo imaging. In fact, given the speed of the satellite, and the 2.5m resolution, it probably would not even be able to capture the same loca
    • knowledgeable answers appreciated

      You must be new here.
    • by Jerf (17166) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:37PM (#12435210) Journal
      Langolier posted the correct answer [slashdot.org] with info not available in the FA.

      Everyone who posted before this is encouraged to be a little more careful providing answers in the future. (All four that I can see are not only wrong, in the sense they don't contain the correct explanation, but also in the sense that they contain serious technical errors.)
  • by Langolier (470727) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:25PM (#12434384) Homepage
    Though it does not say this in the article, it is not the distance between the two cameras on the satellite that produces 3D imagery. The cameras will be pointed in slightly different directions, so that the image taken by one camera at time t will be paired with the image taken by the second camera at time t+x, where the satellite has traveled probably tens of miles in time x. The second camera is pointed slightly "backwards", so that it takes pictures of the same area that the first camera was shooting x seconds ago.

    This is just supposition, based on the fact that two cameras on a satellite would not be far enough apart to generate parallax.

    • by starfishsystems (834319) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:40PM (#12434527) Homepage
      This is just supposition, based on the fact that two cameras on a satellite would not be far enough apart to generate parallax.

      Makes sense, though. According to the article, the orbit is at 620km. To obtain 1.0 degrees of stereo separation would require cameras placed 10.8km apart.

    • ...it is not the distance between the two cameras on the satellite that produces 3D imagery.
      Right...it's actually the cheap cardboard glasses over the camera lense with red and blue filters...
    • If that's the case, why are two cameras necessary? I supposed it could result in more speed and flexibility, but it sounds as though the same thing can be done with careful aiming and timing using just one camera.
  • by analysethis (868648) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:25PM (#12434385)
    I knew they were big into offshoring but...
  • Three Corner Sat (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eggbert.net (217798) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:28PM (#12434409) Homepage
    Over the summer and last semester I worked in a nano-satellite lab at ASU. The most recent satellite of ours that was launched was Three Corner Sat and one of its primary mission objective was sterio imaging.

    http://threecornersat.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]
    http://nasa.asu.edu/ [asu.edu]
    https://spacegrant.colorado.edu/tiki-index.php?pag e=3CS [colorado.edu]

    Unfortunately, the two of our satellites that got launched were released at 50,000 km instead of 100,000 km so they burnt up before they could power up.

    http://www.spacetoday.net/Summary/2737 [spacetoday.net]
  • Isn't India a 3rd world nation, which even gets aid from my government (US)? This sound like a pretty big achievement. If this is all as a result of Indian input, I will from now on look at it in a different light.
    • There is no such thing as 1st, 2nd and 3rd world nations any more. There are only developed and developing nations, India being of the developing kind.
    • India has been doing VERY good in applied sciences and technology in spite of limited resrouces.. mainly because of huge techi population. Its one of the 5 nations to launch PSLV, is working on intercontinetal ballistic missles, one of 5-6 nuclear nations. So, as far as space research is concerned i wouldn't call it 3rd world country :-) And, at least in space research, there is virutally no coperation between US and India after Indian nuclear test in 1998.
    • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:29PM (#12435117) Homepage Journal
      I know it's all hep and stylish to bash India as a "third world country" nowadays, because many Americans perceive "offshoring" our "outsourcing" as a mean scheme by Indians to "steal aar jaabs", but I would like to mention a few things:

      1. The Indian economy [wikipedia.org] happens to be the 12th largest in terms of GDP and 4th largest when adjusted for PPP (Purchasing Power Parity [wikipedia.org]). I quote from the Wikipedia article:

      With a GDP of 568 billion (B$) ($3.096 trillion (T$) at PPP) India has the world's 12th largest economy (and the 4th largest when adjusted for PPP). However, the large population means that per capita income is quite low. In 2003 the World Bank ranked India 143rd in PPP per capita income and 160th in real terms, among 208 countries and territories.

      2. India has (through the Indian Space Research Organization [isro.org]) pursued a pretty widespread (and largely non-military space program) since the 60's. From this relevant Wikipedia article: [wikipedia.org]

      # 1962: Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR); formed by the Department of Atomic Energy, and work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) near Trivandrum began.
      # 1963: First sounding rocket launched from TERLS (November 21, 1963).
      # 1965: Space Science & Technology Centre (SSTC) established in Thumba.
      # 1967: Satellite Telecommunication Earth Station set up at Ahmedabad.
      # 1972: Space Commission and Department of Space set up.
      # 1975: First Indian Satellite, Aryabhatta, launched (April 19, 1975).

      It's also fruitful to note that India was a British colony till 1947. IMHO, starting a space program in about 1.5 decades after gaining independence is a laudable achievement. The major problem which India faces today is it's large population, which pretty much negates all the economic advances, and causes it's perception as a "thirld world country" to continue.

      It is also worth noting that India seems to be spending substantial amounts of money to improve it's people's lot and advancing education, science and research, rather than spending it instead on aggressive military tactics, which seems to be the trend nowadays. If you read up the history of the nation, you'll see that it's one of the few countries that has never pursued invasion/colonialism, and has instead been frequently invaded by conquerers (Mughals, British, etc) who looted the wealth of a formerly rich region and left it in a state that it's trying to dig itself out of now.

      PS: Posted this because I perceived a derogatory slant in the Parent's use of the term "third world country". I find the practice of using wealth to rank nations (especially so when used to diss poor nations) quite abnoxious. I have nothing against using the term in a scientific/neutral sense.

    • by ghoul (157158) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:47PM (#12436390)
      India doesnt receive much direct aid from the US . Indian poor do receive a large amount of money from US based evangelical groups trying to promote Christianity in India (pretty successfully too Already 2 Indian states have become Christian Majority over the last 50 years )
      India keeps losing it best people to the US but now slowly more and more people are staying back and using their brains to run ISRO and DAE (department of Atomic Energy) instead of enriching the shareholders of IBM and Microsoft.
      There is great emphasis on tech in India . Engineers are much more respected in society than doctors or lawyers in contrast to the US so a lot of the top brains go to Engineering.
  • Ugly Rumor (Score:3, Funny)

    by Number6.2 (71553) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:31PM (#12434438) Homepage Journal
    Any truth to the rumor that they're going to oursource their call center to a US firm?

    I'm kidding!
  • by rewinn (647614) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:32PM (#12434453) Homepage
    ... hopefully with Dolby!
  • Stereo imaging?
    Is that like "Hi-Fi"?

    PFFFFT! Call me when you've got 7.1 Surround THX imaging!

  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:34PM (#12434473)
    "It will give information about heights that will be very useful in applications such as planning power lines."

    Um...right. Like decades if not centuries of maps can't help there. Besides, I would think that in a country as large as India, they'd be focusing on localized power generation.

    Sorry, but this sounds like a really lame excuse for lobbing a satellite up there to spy on Pakistan, with a happy-go-lucky PR spin so the average citizen thinks "oh, another satellite that will be useful!" Yessir, routing power lines.

    Not like the US hasn't done the same thing- the majority of shuttle missions were for either admitted, or "disguised-as-scientific-experimentation" military satellites.

    • by ghoul (157158)
      Its more like a technology demonstrator but given that ISRO runs on a shoestirng budget as the govt. has social priorities, the launch has to be justified using a socially usefull purpose. As for spying on Pakistan India already gets all it wants from its existing satellites as well as US owned satellites. The US is pretty friendly with India and more than happy to hand over imagery e.g. During the Kargill conflict the US provided satellite images of Pakistani intruders on Indian soil to the Indian air Forc
    • by Lord Omlette (124579) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @11:25PM (#12438238) Homepage
      Like decades if not centuries of maps can't help there.
      There's a really good book called The Great Hedge of India [roymoxham.com] that touches on this sort of thing. Basically, in India, everything moves around so much that maps are worthless after a couple of years.

      I'm not saying you're wrong about Pakistan though, just that you're wrong about archived maps of India...
  • by Critter92 (522977) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:36PM (#12434493)
    Due to spacecraft (or aircraft) motion, stereo pairs are generated along the flightpath if sequential images overlap. In many systems, each image n generates overlap with both image n+1 and n+2. Given the ability to launch two cameras, why not launch a single camera with more capabilities? Another minor, and common, error is that the Cartosat-1 has a 2.5m pixel on its CCD, which does not transalate into a 2.5m "resolution." CCD resolution corresponds to Ground Sampled Distance (GSD), or the amount of ground sampled on one pixel. Ground resolved distance, (GRD), measures the highest frequency visible in the image and is what we normally think of as "resolution." As a result, for electro optical systems, GRD = 2 x GSD.
  • Stereo from space is nothing new. The first ever spy satellites [nro.gov] all had stereo panoramic cameras. Two cameras mounted on the same platform would not provide sufficient parrallax to get useful stereo, so what is most likely happening is that ALL images are in stereo with images taken forward and behind the sensor. This sounds good in theory, but the utility is somewhat limited, and you probably won't get any good nadir shots.
  • by cerulean_blue99 (881404) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:41PM (#12434542)
    Perhaps I'm not understanding how the submitter is using the term "non-military", and not to wave Uncle Sam's flag too much, but offhand I can think of more than six US RS platforms/sensors:

    EOS/Terra/MODIS http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]
    Landsat ETM+ http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]
    Landsat MSS (yes still going)
    AVHRR http://daac.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/dataset/AVHRR/ [nasa.gov]
    GOES http://www.goes.noaa.gov/ [noaa.gov]
    ASTER http://asterweb.jpl.nasa.gov/ [nasa.gov]

    Not to mention US based commercial satellites:

    IKONOS http://www.spaceimaging.com/ [spaceimaging.com]
    Quickbird URL:http://www.digitalglobe.com/
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:46PM (#12434598)
    There's probably TWO cameras, one for visible light, one for infrared. Not two cameras for binocular vision. The two "eyes" would be too close together for any usable stereoscopic effect.
  • by Dominic_Mazzoni (125164) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @03:46PM (#12434609) Homepage
    This isn't the first stereographic satellite that's accessible to the general public; that would be MISR [nasa.gov] - NASA's Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer, built by JPL, with nine cameras pointed in different directions along its direction of travel in polar orbit, ranging from nadir (straight down) to 70 degrees in either direction. Compared to India's new high-resolution satellite, MISR seems very low resolution - 275 meters per pixel - however, it covers the entire surface of the Earth every few days and all of the data is available for free at this resolution, while India's satellite is "targeting"; it only images a particular area when it is programmed to do so. MISR is used primarily to study clouds and aerosols.

    To see some 3-D images taken by MISR or some animations of its 9 cameras' views of different scenes, check out their gallery [nasa.gov].
  • Can this be done with looking at stars? E.g., take a picture of a cluster of stars from one place in the Earths orbit around the Sun then take the same picture of the same cluster of stars 182 days later. Is the Earth's orbit large enough to see three dimensionality for our closest stars? I.e. depth?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do a Google search for Hipparcos, sometimes spelled Hiparcos. It's an ESA mission that's been taking high quality parallax data of hundreds of the nearest stars, for something like a decade now. Before that, Earth-based observers have been able to measure parallax to even closer stars. These distances are the most accurate measured in astronomy, and are used to calibrate distance scales based on other phenomena, like variable stars. The data, like many scientific endeavours, is publicly available, altho
  • All this... (Score:2, Interesting)

    Plenty of orbiting satellites up there. What's amazing is this comes from a country with an average literacy rate of 52% [censusindia.net] (compared to 97% for the U.S. [infoplease.com]).

    48% of their citizens can't read or write, but they're funding a space program to the equivalent of a few billion U.S. dollars. Amazing. I can only imagine what taxes must be like in India to pay for something so expensive when the per capita income is so low.
    • With India's real GDP growth rate averaging 6.1% [rba.gov.au] over the last ten years, I think we can all agree that they are doing something right.

      Obviously the government doesn't get big money from the peasants. Agriculture in India, which most of the poor people are involved in, is only responsible for 25% of GDP. 25% of the GDP comes from manufacturing, and 50% of Indian GDP comes from services (think: call centers, software outsourcing, etc.)
    • by geekoid (135745)
      at the rate American companies(who get American tax breaks, BTW) are sending are jobs to India, those literacy numbers will swap.

      so nothng to worry about.

      Becasue every American wants good scholls and no taxes.

      *the misspelling were intentional..this time.
    • Re:All this... (Score:3, Informative)

      by brontus3927 (865730)
      If they spent their entire GDP on literacy, housing, healthcare, etc so that every Indian citizen would read, write, have a place to live, and food to eat, they wouldn't have any money for technological programs. At that point, people would lament how "backwards" the country was because it was existing largely on 19th century technology.

      India has a population of 1,065,070,607 [google.com] whereas the US has a poulation of 293,027,571 [google.com]

      52% of 1,065,070,607 is 553,836,715 and 97% of 293,027,571 is 284,236,743. That m

      • If they spent their entire GDP on literacy, housing, healthcare, etc so that every Indian citizen would read, write, have a place to live, and food to eat, they wouldn't have any money for technological programs. At that point, people would lament how "backwards" the country was because it was existing largely on 19th century technology.

        Very true, although I think you are missing my point. I was not lamenting the fact that India is spending money on rockets instead of rice, I was amazed that they could d
      • 52% of 1,065,070,607 is 553,836,715 and 97% of 293,027,571 is 284,236,743. That means India already has 269,599,972 more literate people than the US.

        Yes, but you're forgetting the inverse of your argument. 3% of the U.S. population is 8,790,827. 48% of the Indian population is 511,233,891. That means India has almost twice the number of illiterate citizens as the U.S. has total citizens. Do not underestimate the significant drain half a million illiterates can pose on an economy. Most illiterates wou
    • Re:All this... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Telastyn (206146)
      Where'd you get those numbers?

      Google shows their budget to be somewhere around $3.3 billion US over 5 years or about $650m.

      Given nasa's budget of $16 billion US, and the US's population of 300m, per capita income of $30k VS india's 1b population at $3k per capita...

      The amount of tax [compared to per capita income] needed to fund the space programs are nearly identical. (around .0002% of their yearly income if my math is correct)
    • So they have more literate people than in the US (52% of over 1Billion people). Their per-capita taxes are lower, but there are more people and the people developing the stuff are paid india wages. Doesn't sound like a financial problem to me...
    • They may be "illiterate" but they can count. In general asian parents put more emphasis on education, especially in math, science, and engineering. No wonder you see so many asians in tech and scientific research related fields.
    • Re:All this... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dracken (453199)
      "Isro's budget is $450m annually, 40% of which is spent on Indian industry." [bbc.co.uk] India's population is five times that of the US. With such a high population and such a low space research budget, what impact do you think it has on the per capita tax ?

      I had enough of "but there are starving people there" comments about India. India is a developed nation as far as intellectual capital is concerned. If the Indian government completely ignored this segment of the population, they would simply emigrate.
    • Re:All this... (Score:4, Informative)

      by peacelife (228905) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#12435723)
      No, the taxes are not that high - the highest income tax slab is slightly higher than 30%. The cost of living is much lower in India than in the US, so unless you factor that in, any assumptions/comparisons you make are likely to be wrong. But you have got me thinking about the military expenditures of both the countries. The Bush administration is asking for about $419 billion [armscontrolcenter.org] for its military. That is a truly humungous amount. What do you do with it? That alone is half the global military spending!

      And a nitpick which will hopefully bring this post back on topic - the average literacy you mentioned is wrong. It is 64.8% [censusindia.net] according to the 2001 census. The number you gave was for 1991. 14 years can make a lot of difference in a country like India, even given its huge population.

  • by leighklotz (192300) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:42PM (#12436360) Homepage
    The same rocket launch also put into place ham satellite [deepikaglobal.com] for use in South Asia. There are other satellites available for personal use (AMSAT [amsat.org] has several, including (Echo 51 [amsat.org]) but VUSat [amsat.org] is focused on use from India and South Asia.
  • the funny thing is (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xot (663131) <fragiledeath@ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:03PM (#12436490) Journal
    ..instead of people asking or commenting about the actual launch itself, most people are bothered about why India is not feeding its hungry people and launching satellites in space.
    Doesnt it feel a lil daft asking these questions over & over again?!Is a developing country only expected to feed it hungry nad look after the poverty problem.I really fail to understand that point of view.
  • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Thursday May 05, 2005 @02:55AM (#12439140) Journal
    Many people have posted almost the right answer for why two cameras are needed, one pointing slightly forward, one slightly back, for stereo. That's right, as far as it goes.

    But what people are missing is that these are not cameras like you are used to. The pictures they take are not (say) 4k x 4k, they are 4k by 1 pixel. That one-pixel-high image is painted across the surface by the motion of the satellite, generating a very long strip image. Typically, the cameras run continuously.

    So, that's why you can't just "snap a photo, move the camera, snap another one". These are not snapshots, they are long strip images taken a scanline at a time. Two fixed cameras are the right answer.

    Thad Beier

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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