India’s Earth-Observing System Comes Under Fire

Some of these criticisms came to the fore in April when government auditors handed Parliament a scathing 57-page review of the National Remote Sensing Center (NRSC) in Hyderabad, ISRO‘s Earth-observing arm. The Comptroller’ and Auditor General of India (CAG) conducted a “performance audit” of seven remote-sensing satellites over 7 years and found that they had been built without an adequate assessment of the need. …

The CAG report says that between 2002 and 2009, India spent almost $551 million to design and launch the seven satellites it examined; in this period NRSC sold data worth about $39 million, recovering 7% of the expenditure. …

The biggest headache for companies and nonprofit researchers hoping to use satellite images may be India’s 2001 Remote Sensing Data Policy. It gives NRSC a monopoly within India to control access to images with less than 5.8-meter reolution — not just images from Indian satellites but also those from foreign sources. …

Source: Science Magazine, Vol 323, May 27, 2011, page  1023

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