Bangalore: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has launched Bhuvan, a mapping application website like Google Earth, which promises to give better 3D satellite images of India and provides India specific features. The scientific community of the country also remembered the father of the Indian space program, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai on his birth anniversary.
Bhuvan, which means earth in Sanskrit, allows users to see any part of the subcontinent barring sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations. The 3D mapping tool uses images taken a year ago by ISRO's seven remote sensing satellites, including Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-2. The satellites can even capture the images of objects as small as a car on a road.
Bhuvan displays satellite images of varying resolution of India's surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and important places of interest looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with different perspectives and can navigate through 3D viewing environment. The degree of resolution showcased is based on the points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered up to at least six meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters from Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWifs). Bhuvan maps up to 10 meters compared to 200 meters of Google and 50 meters of Wikipedia.
Hyderabad based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), which is a part of ISRO, had a lead role in designing and developing 'Bhuvan'.
"We were extremely enthusiastic and right from the word go our focus was that it should be useful to users in India," said V Jayaraman, Director, NRSA.
The features include: Access, explore and visualize 2D and 3D image data along with rich thematic information on Soil, wasteland, water resources, superpose administrative boundaries of choice on images as required, visualization of AWS ( Automatic Weather Stations) data/information in a graphic view and use tabular weather data of user choice, Heads-Up Display ( HUD) naviation controls ( Tilt slider, north indicator, opacity, compass ring, zoom slider), navigation using the 3D view pop-up menu (Fly-in, Fly out, jump in, jump around, view point), drawing 2D objects (Text labels, polylines, polygons, rectangles, 2D arrows, circles, ellipse), drawing 3D Objects (placing of expressive 3D models, 3D polygons, boxes), snapshot creation (copies the 3D view to a floating window and allows to save to a external file)
Advanced functionalities which will be provided in the future are urban design tools, contour map and terrain profile.
Madhavan Nair, ISRO Chairman informed that the space agency had started the preparations for a mission to Mars within the next six years. It was looking at launch opportunities between 2013 and 2015.