Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Your Own Satellite:RazakSAT to be launched on April 21

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia: For less than RM2,000 you can now have a satellite image of your neighbourhood or a place of interest. The images from RazakSAT, Malaysia’s first home-grown remote sensing satellite, can be purchased from the Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency from middle of this year.Malaysia sent off RazakSAT from the Royal Malaysian Air Force Subang airfield to Kwajalein Island in the Republic of Marshall Islands, from where the satellite will be launched on April 21. RazakSAT, named after the second Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Abdul Razak, is a mini class satellite weighing 180kg and the first remote sensing satellite in the world to be orbiting the equator.Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the equatorial orbiting satellite would enable observations of the earth’s surface to be made more often compared with a polar orbiting satellite.RazakSAT can revisit the same spot four to six times a day and has a 2.5m resolution. “The satellite, which cost RM150mil, is the workmanship of local scientists and engineers,” he said in a press conference after the launch of RazakSAT.Malaysian Remote Sensing Agency director general Darus Ahmad said a committee comprising government agencies such as the military and police would vet requests for “sensitive” images.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Nano, world's cheapest car, to hit Indian roads

While the cost of raw materials such as steel has changed a lot since the Nano was first proposed, and even since its unveiling, the company decided to hold the price for the first 100,000 cars and expects it to be profitable. 

Analysts said Tata may raise prices soon, but slim margins, initial capacity constraints and muted market sentiment mean that breakeven on the project will take 5-6 years.

"Scaling-up challenges are expected to be humungous," CRISIL Research said in a note, adding volumes of 200,000-500,000 units were needed in the medium term for the project to be viable.

Tata can currently produce about 60,000 Nanos a year until a 250,000-unit plant in Gujarat state comes onstream by end-2009.

El Nino study challenges global warming intensity link

click here to read

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Forestry can create 10 million jobs

The United Nations is urging countries to invest in green jobs working with "sustainable forest management" to address the growing problem of unemployment worldwide.

At least 10 million such jobs could be created, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization will say in a report to be released this week.

The report does not mention any countries but is aimed at "mainly regions with substantial rural unemployment and degraded land areas," said C.T.S. Nair, chief economist in the U.N. Forestry Department and one of the authors of the report.

While all countries could benefit from investing in these green jobs, Nair said, Asia and Africa -- and to some extent Latin America -- could benefit the most. India, China and almost all countries in Africa stand to benefit, he added.

The United Nations said it already is seeing indications that some countries -- such as the United States, India and South Korea -- are interested and taking action to invest in sustainable forest management by making it part of their economic stimulus plans.

Sustainable forestry aims to prevent depletion of forests by managing them and making sure their use does not interfere with natural benefits or the local environment.


first published in The Huffington Post

Monday, March 9, 2009

Haryana gets satellite images of Aravalli constructions

Haryana’s Forest department has said that it has begun receiving satellite images clearly depicting construction closed on the Aravalli Hills in areas falling under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) 1900. Prepared by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), these images are open to public scrutiny as the department has extended an invitation for those interested in seeing the maps. 

The Supreme Court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) is likely to table these images with the apex court during the next dates of hearing, which are March 18, 19 and 20. Earlier too, the CEC had submitted the satellite images of 25 villages in the Aravalli Hills of Faridabad and recommended demolishing structures constructed there. The forest department had dispatched raw drawings of all 58 villages to FSI for preparing change of land-use maps this January. 

Finance Commissioner and Principal Secretary (Forests) P.K. Gupta said his department had received images of 10 of the 58 villages situated on the Aravalli Hills in Gurgaon. “We hope to get images of all 58 villages by the next date of hearing, when the CEC produces these before the SC,” he said.

The Haryana government had provisioned an expenditure of Rs 1 crore for classifying the type of constructions on Aravalli Hills in the Faridabad and Gurgaon regions through satellite images. The FSI gets the high-resolution remote sensing satellite images from the National Remote Sensing Agency of the Department of Space that uses a Quick Bird satellite of US make. 

Source : http://www.hindustantimes.com

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Saltwater solution to save crops

Technology under development at the University of New South Wales could offer new hope to farmers in drought-affected and marginal areas by enabling crops to grow using salty groundwater.

Associate Professor Greg Leslie, a chemical engineer at UNSW’s UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology, is working with the University of Sydney on technology which uses reverse-osmosis membranes to turn previously useless, brackish groundwater into a valuable agricultural resource.