India launches 7-satellite rocket to watch for asteroids, record climate change


People in a field watch as an Indian communication satellite GSAT-12 onboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-17 blasts off from the spaceport in Sriharikota on July 15, 2011.


Seshadri Sukumar

India fired off a rocket carrying seven satellites developed by various countries into space on Monday, according to BBC News, including one asteroid-watching satellite and another monitoring climate change on Earth. 

The asteroid-alerting satellite was developed by Canada and is "the only space telescope dedicated to searching for asteroids" according to Canadian satellite scientist Alan Hildebrand, said Reuters, citing local media. 

The asteroid orbiter will be on the alert for debris that might hit Earth after an undetected meteor recently landed in Russia and wounded over 1,000 people. The Canadian Space Agency described the Near-Earth Object Space Surveillance Satellite as a "sentinel in the sky," said Reuters

India's rocket launch is part of an expanding national space program that includes an unmanned Mars trip and plans for 10 space voyages in 2013, said BBC

President Pranab Mukherjee himself attended the take-off ceremony at Sriharikota launch center in Andhra Pradesh in southern India on Monday, according to Reuters.

There he saw the seven-satellite rocket lift off equipped with two Canadian satellites, two Austrian satellites, one from Denmark, one from Britain, and one Indo-French satellite that will monitor the Earth's climate activity, reported BBC.

The collaborative SARAL satellite will be recording ocean currents and sea levels on Earth to help track climate changes, said Reuters

Monday's trip sees the rocket carrying the load -- the seven-story-high Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle -- embark on its 23rd mission, said BBC