US satellites join Isro in search of missing chopper | india | Hindustan Times
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US satellites join Isro in search of missing chopper

While the Indian Space Research Organisation pressed into service an aircraft of the National Remote Sensing Agency to search for the helicopter carrying the AP CM, the state Govt requisitioned the services of US satellites to track the Nallamala forest ranges, reports Satyen Mohapatara.

india Updated: Sep 03, 2009 01:20 IST
Satyen Mohapatara

While the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) pressed into service an aircraft of the National Remote Sensing Agency to search for the helicopter carrying the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the state government on Wednesday requisitioned the services of US satellites to track the Nallamala forest ranges — about 250 km from Hyderabad.

The Bell 430 helicopter with five persons on board went missing while it was possibly flying over the forest ranges.

Though the ISRO satellites would start tracking the helicopter from Thursday morning, the United States can do the job much faster because it has a larger number of satellites in space.

“Normally, a satellite takes two to four days to return to a specific location on earth. The US, with a large number of satellites, can locate a specific area on the earth faster than us," said K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO chief.

Kasturirangan, however, clarified that the resolution of Indian and US satellites are more or less the same and are capable of tracking a missing helicopter. US and Indian satellites have a resolution of 65 to 80 centimetres. This means they are able to clearly see anything the size a lunch box.

ISRO Director-Satellite Centre T.K. Alex told the Hindustan Times: "We have a radar imaging satellite that can take pictures even when there are clouds or at night.”

"The satellite is circling the earth 550 km above the earth and is somewhere in the area. It will be commanded to come around and click photographs of the approximate area where the helicopter could probably be," he said.

According to the guidelines of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, helicopters are required to carry an emergency locator transmitter, which sends signals all around automatically after encountering very heavy jerks. These signals are picked up by satellites to locate the helicopters.

“If the helicopter had been carrying this equipment and it had crashed, we would have got the signal. But we've not picked up any signal so far,” Alex said.