Indian Space History Memory Monologues - Dr George Joseph

George has been the guiding force in the design and development of all the earth observation cameras on board Indian Remote Sensing Satellite and INSAT.

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For space [00:01:00] launches and

[00:01:00] George: satellites.

Um, John Joseph, I started my research area

and, uh, I have been working on KD instruments with billboards study, cosmic radiation. And in 1973, I came to a box. Join the space application center. I really, before I get into the detail, I would like to use some background how space application center Saturday during the unfortunate that by those days, activities in the scattered in different places.

So, so that one to cover us chairman, we consolidated everything and [00:02:00] put together as, as space application center. Now those days there are two major activities, one relating the communications, other relating to the remote sensing. But the remote sensing activities, but initially those days were scattered out under the leadership of

at a physical, as a laboratory, which is initiated by . Now, this was shifted to space application center in those days and communications activities where you modern, advanced. But, uh, uh, remote sensing was in the infant stage. So when a you found it is necessary to have all pieces of remote sensing under one group, we say unique concept, which you won't find anywhere else.

Now, for [00:03:00] example, you regret, eh, eh, Uh, to develop a camera or instrument to collect the data from the spacecraft, then those data has to be converted into computer compatible tapes or the photographic product or analysis. And then this data has to be actually utilized by the end user. That's what the real purpose is concept.

So. To bring in people to have these three activities. It so happened that all these three people came from here. Now I was, uh, looked at, I was, uh, in like, To develop the instrumentation basically at acceleration, the camera does it's a BS come up the second Billtrust [00:04:00] spot. And you ask the person who developed the fiscal nutrient DFR to develop data processing and product and not propel this so high, who will look after the applications.

So just a duper diagnosis story. So I was working with . When I broke down with cold, uh, astronomy. So one after only called me and said, uh, the night thought is willing to discuss something about the experiment. So I took all my files, notes, et cetera. I came to humanity to my surprise. He said, George, I want you to come to.

So what I will lose that I said, no, no, you will do under what sensing instrumentation. Well, at those times, to be honest, I didn't know much about remote sensing except it's meant for weather [00:05:00] and my knowledge of

So you said that you come and talk to and so one fine morning. I got a ticket to, sorry. And at a discussion with who explained to me in such a cave possibilities. So, you know, if you want to do anything, it has to be a remote sensing. So that's how I was inducted. But then I had a little problem leaving DFR because I was deeply involved in developing the payload for the

Which was my, uh, pieces instrumentation, but, uh, then my boss, there was worried how this will be completed. Then we have one fine morning. I got a appointment order. So I started in, I [00:06:00] landed in, uh, in AMA now why this is a . Well, all the three facets coming together under one group was very effective. We'll find in the lead of my talk.

Now, did she say you need team? Because if you want something to happen, something productive to the end user, you should have all the facets of. No, he had such a foresight. You said it's not enough that you develop this technology in house. You should know what the user wants and you also should not what technology can be provided.

So yes,

which later I wrote that script that probably. So this is a country. Which is originated right from the beginning and all the [00:07:00] space activities. That space is not for developing in-house things, but the fruits have to go to the national development. This is how the space application center evolved. As far as the remote sensing activities are concerned.

Now, let me digress a little bit and talk about remote sensing origin, and then nationality. Digging in 1969, Sarabhai had a wander to have a meeting with them play minister. So I ended up landing. So you got an appointment of that bar, 1969. And he went there with a group of people to present. What rewards, what space can.

In general and Watson in particular. So he got half an hour, but the discussion [00:08:00] went four hours and the discussion was over. They came back to the main person, explaining all these things. The next day was really concerned and very.

And said, sir, we talked about so much in detail to Madam, to prime minister, that what we can do, but she never said that you were ahead. So nobody's hands up. She never said don't do it. So the, it is an accepted to go ahead with the way this is the typical way in which Sarabhai used to having to get things done.

And. And bridging the gap between the, uh, administration administer requirement and the scientists. So then the, one of the participant [00:09:00] in that meeting was who was in charge of ICRE agriculture, such. So he came and talked to Saturday. Let us find out how this is affective in our country. So, what is suggested is in Carola, that is a coconut trees.

What a disease called coconut, which affects the, the top portion of the coconut. And you can't see it unless it is progress by the time the damage is already done on that. So that was the first experiment carried out in the remote setting and it was done on a. So then they could clearly identify using a multi-vendor cameras.

They could identify the, uh, Parkland priests, but [00:10:00] then they found out it is rather difficult to operationalize because each individual P is getting affected onto this thing. But in the later. You're not those days, we didn't have any occupants. So you had to get the camera from one place expired from another place, developing from another place.


so in this, uh, in this later, He used to sell because they were interesting. So he used to make a comment that the two international character of the first remote sensing is predetermined by India. The camera was made, the feeling was made from. The [00:11:00] helicopter was from Russian and expert from USA help, but the brain behind the filament was India.

Of course. What can I sorry again? So this is the beginning. You could say the Fest,

then the following that a lot of, uh, join the experiment were done with. To find out how effectively remote sensing can be applied for national development. So the trust in all these things, don't do things by sorrow, but you have to get involved in the USA song. Now coming back to the developmental effort of cameras, retail

So when we, when, uh, There was only a single band Canada, [00:12:00] which separate shower, what, from a flat, because of his special contact, which just used to measure the sea surface temperature those days. Uh, you know, that was a very important thing to find out the temperature of the ocean, which you can be linked to the monsoon.

So when, uh, I came, uh, to space application center, the first task was to develop the capability of making at the observation systems on that we started with developing a airborne multi-spectral scanner, as it is for set for band. We used similar to multi-spectral scanner flown in the, by the U S in this satellite, this was extensively [00:13:00] used to collect data.

And this was given to the computer people to convert into data products. And then to the, uh, the application, we will do analyze it on that. No, this was done. I had never really systematic way. You have taken, you measure this number of places initially before the development of the multi-spectral scanner on the airport.

Do you use the cameras using the film? Was that not? Is now data. Nobody uses that now, then what happened? We have come to a situation where the idea and the idea of what time was launched, uh, then the, after the launch, then, uh, the UN before the laundry, I would say[00:14:00]

I was wondering how we'll proceed further with the satellites. So they decided we shouldn't have an application side. But then we have to minimally use maximally use the, what is available as a standby for ID. And therefore it was satellite as a spinning satellite. They thought it is the best thing is to use, uh, for rewards.

So it do decide that the next satellite of the India was a remote sensing satellite. And it apparently that two days after the launch of the first satellite, there was a module signed between the India handy USP USSR space agency launched the, uh, the second satellite. So this satellite had a camera system.[00:15:00]

by the space application center, we just are spending satellite. So it is really difficult. You can imagine who daycare for talking out when I'm moving system, how difficulties, but then we made the two band camera system. I would say just much more complicated than the later, uh, cameras, which we have developed.

And this had a very high voltage. About 14 kilos, which has to be taken care of without any problem under the right format, et cetera, et cetera. So one of the satellite was launched one of the first time, the camera could not be operated because of the arc, but we did a simulation experiment. We immediately found out what the problem is.

And after a few months successfully operated. So that was the first space one [00:16:00] system. What we have done in the meantime, we were looking ahead of what are the technologies? The conventional technology was using a, what is called an optomechanical scanner, where a mirror scans the surface of the app and the space can have movement.

Give you successive scan lights on that. Then a committee was set up to define what should be the next operational satellites. So the committee at that time looked at many things and we said that we'll go by the non-technology at that time, that is using optomechanical scanner. And the first, uh, Office order by Chapman was to use optomechanical scan and concern that, uh, our experience using it solely said [00:17:00] devices that also was in children.

But then by the time we have demonstrated what is called a charge couple device, which would be useful imaging, I would sell, uh, the first airborne system by. Last in 1978 or so. And we demonstrated his potential in 1980 those days when internet was not that inflammation, but was really slow. I would say this high technology we can get on with the rest of the world, which I can certainly say is a great contribution and achievements.

So we, I did a detailed study. And now our, a team using this, uh, CCD cam, uh, devices. And we made a submit a proposal. I made a letter to then that about satellites and [00:18:00] that if you want to go farther, that we should concentrate our effort on using. So you said you're having a CCD, that committee was set up and I could convince.

And therefore it was decided to have a CCD based system in the first operation camera. That is one of the great step forward because normally in the space, one is scared to take any new device or you go by the, you know, quality experience. Uh, my dad's by which one goes on this thing. We have the one name launch with the, what we call camera images, self scanning camera, which a, there are two cameras, one with about 70 meters solution, which has like Landsat [00:19:00] solution, which is close to the, uh, uh, PM.

Uh, Sensor on camera onboard a Landsat. So the idea is the people who are using Landsat data now can use very close to this and find out what is its potential. So this was, uh, the quality of the image was excellent because the CCD camera has got a switch. We can. Which the optomechanical candidate. So he does outsmart the performance of the landset, their muscles.

And therefore in 1995, when we one seat, hi, yes. This patient a solution by me to the camera in the world. So that is, uh, you know, Uh, the[00:20:00]

the spot, but 10 meter. Let me digress and tell you how this all came about. This high resolution camera now was taking a review that what is the next step for ? So we said that there's a need to go for a Florida. And explain how it is and Diaz. What about the plank? Robotic camera? That is panchromatic black-and-white.

We just bought with 10 meter. Somebody from the, uh, group said we should go for a 10 meter Camry bank. I was very upset. I don't want you to be followers. Don't tell me you can do what this can do. Can you do better? So he looked at me and said, can you make five meter is a big [00:21:00] challenge. There was no, no non-system but we took up the challenge.

And the story I'm telling is once a talent is given to a team who are dedicated, they can come up race, uh, rise to the occasion and provide it in 1995, we made. Hydro solution civilian system, anywhere in the world. Now I just don't under diagnosis and the thingy of having our facets in one place. Now, you know, you have been talking about what are the new development of the census to be done on that.

So at that time we used to interact with the application. And one of the major applications of remote sensing in India those days, and even now is considered finding out crop production, [00:22:00] estimation area and production is distribution. Now to find out the area is production. You should know how much can do.

You can get a remote sensing of salvation during the growth cycle. The whole of the, of this, uh, crops, it was up to her maturity. And then seeing the sense takes place on that. You need to make observation in all these stages, five, six times, at least in that span of this. Now the issue is in that Sunday, like India is cloud.

And the reward sensing what we have been using is optical and it cannot pin it to the cloud. So what do you have to do? You should be able to make a repeat of salvation, but when you manage to make it a repeat of salvation, that asset and can [00:23:00] stage a very large SWAT without that. Which those days, because of the technological limitation, what we found with this, uh, our application scientists, even with a solution of what, 70, 80 meters.

But if you can repeat a over the five days is going to be great. So we develop a wide field. We just said later, he's called that one's white field camera image. We just got about 70, 80 meters, but about 700 kilometers slot. This is what happened when the satellite moves in one, because of the large SWAT, you can see that.

So everyday fuel five to six days, you should be able to cover this stand out to be a very unique sensor, not available anywhere in the world. So even, [00:24:00] uh, the outside India, us and Europe, people started using it. And there are a number of publications. One can see using this system. So this is another innovations which we have done.

To meet the application needs. The point I want to make is our idea is not to make the best instrument. Our idea is our concept is what is the best instrument to meet our application needs. It may be in suddenly, may also become the best instrument. And later on, as smart as the development of the census of concern.

One of the modern application is

height measurement. So for that , that means you are able to see [00:25:00] at that dimension using two eyes. So your two cameras or use one camera itself from different. So we decided to go with that group two camera system with a 2.5 meter solution, I'll say graphics that sorts of first off it's cane using regular Steria.

That means two independent viewing at different angles on that. So that was also used in a number of countries other than the. Now the IRS one, a launch. Now we have found out that our data as we utility outside India. So there were a number of ground stations set up so that this data has been collected and can be utilized by other countries.

Also, you [00:26:00] now this was done on those days, but what is called an entry score? We probably would have heard from heck day and the distributor, this and the, we set up all the ground stations and the software required for that. And for collecting now some then onwards we have, uh, now currently have sensors, which capable of submitter capability.

I think around the world 2.25 meters,

which has got tremendous potential in urban planning. And of course the other strategies applications on that. So if I would say that India started with a very modest system of one kilometer now at bar with the world in providing that. Uh, you know, the imagery [00:27:00] to the, to the world, if somebody wandered on, but they would also correct them.

Say currently these type of systems are now commercially available because of the static and Martins. So the large, the number of, uh, private, uh, companies are developing this, but our is especially weekly for our own. Meeting our own requirement. I know that, uh, uh, urea plant is planetary exploration. See the, that is a brain gender then chairman Dr.

said that we should find out our ability to go to other planets. So the first step was going to move. Now the people, some [00:28:00] people will question why, you know, I can relate to go tomorrow, but I would like to say you need technological development. The two we'll see very much later. And the spare the morning is going to be a resources are economical and Statseeker, uh, And from the

economic Lazarus, very different

strategy reasons on that. So you cannot be lagging behind. So once you, so therefore there was the first step. Going to other planets and having our own food on there. [00:29:00] So the committee was set up to, uh, to, to define what type of systems can be there in our best, uh, satellite around the moon. I had the privilege of chairing that committee study and we come out with a set of in-store.

These instruments to make scientific observations as to what led the imaging. So at that time I talked to the gentleman said this let's make it. Uh, and science mission. So we will leave, can go call for international participation, which normally happens in NASA and DSA, except that they invite international participation and they say our best good proposal.

They will allow some space to follow that. So we made that. I don't spend a lot of opportunity. There's a number of, uh, [00:30:00] proposals and we have shortlisted and this one. In the satellite under the sea. So what I want to say is whenever we made, assigned as probation of the mall, so we at par with the restaurant, the countries invited proposals to put it on that.

And that has become an international machine. If you want to say, though, you ended the whole satellite and every aspect is always that time. It's. We have the study team look then to our possibility as going to mass, because it was not stopped with that going to Mars. And one of the experiments there was that imaging camera CST, your scopey camera so that the systematic mapping or the moon can be done.

The moon has been made. In centimeter level by astronauts landing on that. And they're [00:31:00] very course level, but never taken a systematic, uh, total coverage or the moral on that first effort in that direction. Why that is important is you want to do any development. You should not, you should have a base map, you know, in India, if you want any development,

That was the purpose, but the satellite, unfortunately it didn't last for a year, which we have the same, but still most of the areas have been covered. So we have now capability, not only cover India, uh, call out of the other planets. And later we have this camera system and other things on do a moon. But, uh, when using systematic

this is what [00:32:00] broadly the, uh, the sense of development or resistance. But I should say that the, the fuck that's not strong by denigrating imagery. And in fact, I sat up by. How we can use it for national development. So one of the major trust, right during Sarah buys, Taiwan to involve the use of agencies goes time

to a large number of administrators to make them know what the space can do. So there was a meeting held in. A hundred administrators, policymakers, where that, which during those days were a very good number and set up by himself at the [00:33:00] street until that culture using take your, uh, end user, along with you is continued the successive chatbox.

Now the, eh, as I mentioned earlier, the best experiment. Uh, the how to find out the estrogen production was done with agriculture as search Institute. And later, before a launch of a satellite, there was a PlayStation. So we have basket PlayStation program. When you involve the actual end-users, you make a simulator data and tell them how you can use it.

So when I leave, you have to PlayStation program before the launch. And when we had the, the ocean satellite, we not only had a utilization program, we had [00:34:00] signed with. Uh, such institutions and operational agencies that how you will use the, uh, the, the ocean data for the end applications on that. Now, I would say that with this type of a fund, now you are able to transfer the technology to the end use.

No you one or two or three examples, the, uh, finance department, they have a mandate to find out the extent of forest. Wait, two years. No, they're already using black and white photographs on wait, Gabriel salary family. Now we have the more stated, you'll see. Uh, satellite imagery, how you can, uh, [00:35:00] enumerate the forest, cover the whole of the country.

Now the forest, sorry of India, the IDEO, this independently, the technology was developed along with them. Initially, there were some, uh, you know, Um, discrepancies. This had been technically we asked, we installed that the other major, uh, area in which the cirrhosis is the production of various, uh, agricultural products before the launch or before the harvest, this has got tremendous economic value.

That means if one finds out you are production is. Okay, you can dig planning, doing boat, Portage, any other necessary action, but the world knows that your production is less. They will Jack up the price. So these are really important. [00:36:00] Now this technology has been transferred under the NAS, uh, department of agriculture, which is called, uh, uh, a unit emergency of footfall.

And then now they innovate the production of wheat and rice and a few other CDMs and a cash crops. Watch in advance at least three weeks in advance of the harvest. This is one thing you can say, but the actual activity as one to the end user on that. The potential school for fishing. This has also developed with this release application, send them,

see what happened. Normally the fisherman, [00:37:00] take the boat and go out with the past expedient to find out. We have found out the fish. Accumulation take place. They say gradient phytoplankton, and there's a temperature gradient. This can be found out using satellite imagery. Therefore we can find. Well, he's the potential school fish, so you can go them and fish instead of looking around on the receipt.

Now, this is an operational system, national Institute of oceanography in hydrovac. They are the prime agency collecting that data and, and, uh, distributing it all costs. Now they have a board in which he chose that, which is a longitude and latitude who can go and fish to things. So they're more out with the [00:38:00] GPS now, you on the mobile and go there and catch the fish.

Now this has tremendous economic potential. And in fact, the point is that even if it is delayed not available, they will just say, where is the beta. Now, this is also transmitted. Uh, where are you seeing video on their own language? They thought that a couple of examples where you can show that the remote sensing technology has gone into the Jurassic world applications that talk to what you could talk about.

You said that, uh, the first camera system for. Was, uh, you have a, we have a peculiar, uh, requirement. We have to look at two spectral backs or two colors. One is indivisible other than the near [00:39:00] environment, which is not visible to human eyes. So you do not get this type of cameras easily on that. So we have a company in a flat to design one for.

And that they did really well. Probably the first time

when we come back to actual operation system, one gratifying thing is with time, we were able to indigenize all students. Now, initially the, our idea, I know not develop . Wherever you have the design, try to get it from outside department or possibly and indigenous lead. Right? So the lenses for the CCD camera, we just said new [00:40:00] design concept compared to the things that they used to have one big camera, a telescope, and split the beam, do four or five colors.

We use four separate camera. Lenses each can be tuned specifically to their capability. So the quality is much higher. Now we have indigenous capability of developing these cameras and also aspheric mirrors. These are all done by Leos in, uh, uh, in the Bangalore. And you were now CCDs. We have the ability to develop.

So we have not only have a indigenous design capability, which I would say pottery best in the world. We also have a capability to the component level to fabricate and make it onto this. [00:41:00] And along with that, another really what I'm thinking is category. C testing. These things is really, really important because you have to see that it meets the specifications on that.

So we have developed a elaborate laboratory capability here, reach, as I would say, can be compared to the best in. There's a really large integration facility and a complicated or complex instrument to test. See if you want to test the camera, the test instrument has to be better than the camera. You have to really make Destin instrument of at least one order of magnitude, better than the camera to test it.

Is that some of the other achievements which we have done on that, I would say Karen. We are at par with anywhere else in the world to system design and fabricate these, uh, [00:42:00] cameras design and realize this camera. I would also mention that. Give us one point, which I have not mentioned earlier. See, we realize the potential of microbial.

See the visible last got a limitation that it cannot see through clouds. It cannot see at night micro instrumentation see through Dan night. So this microwave technology is very complex, but we knew this potential. So you went in the basket. We had a micro radio meter, which are essentially the radiance coming from the.

Into bad. And this has been used to find out that

yes, we were developing, which is called the airborne and for the aircraft. So [00:43:00] that will give you the familiarity. So, you know, all in sort of programs, what we have is you, uh, have. Uh, learning phase, then do it in a pretty Rendell phase, then operationalize it. So the three stage one, we go learn experiment and operationally, then, you know, the

specialist solutions. So what people do is that since. Now India, the capability of building really complex, uh, uh, instrumentation. And we had the first, uh, satellite launched using, uh, which has a capability, different modes. It can operate different, uh, Uh, [00:44:00] can operate. So that is under the ban night technology.

So that also surpassed my start on that and that from the application point of view, as I told you, you have the issue with the cloud color, so that will not happen well, that is.

So I think that is probably what I don't right now can be interjected along with the sensitivity. So that,

let me conclude by reiterating what Homi Bhabha said in 1962, we are in the same ground floor as the Western nations. They are leading us only by about four to five years and offering to launch. Uh, hence in the course of 10 to 20 years, we must be able to equal the well in the field of [00:45:00] remote sensing. I could confidently say we have not really welled up in applying the remote sensing technology for national need.

We have, I would say even we have accessible. Thank you.

[00:45:20] Narayan: thank you for listening into this episode of the new space in debt podcast. If you enjoyed this conversation, please share this episode with anyone you believe will enjoy listening to it. You'll be able to find the new space in their podcast, in any of the podcasting platforms that you may be using, including apple, Google, Spotify, YouTube.

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Narayan Prasad