ISRO Launches Bhuvan, Google Earth Gets Competition
Isro took a leap into satellite imagery of geographical regions with the launch of 'Bhuvan', a mapping application website like Google Earth, on Wednesday. The day marks the 90th birth anniversary of the father of Indian space programme Vikram Sarabhai.
Top space scientists were present at the launch ceremony at a workshop organised by Astronautical Society of India in New Delhi. Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Agency (NRSA), a part of Isro, had a lead role in designing and developing 'Bhuvan'.
NRSA director V Jayaraman told TOI that in November 2008 he picked up young scientists from Isro to work on the project. "They were extremely enthusiastic and right from the word go our focus was that it should be useful to users in India," he said.
NRSA scientists developed the content using data provided by Indian satellites like Resourcesat-1. 'Bhuvan', which in Sanskrit means the earth, also focus on rural and thematic applications like wasteland mapping and terrain profile. It contains weather details like humidity levels. The new portal shows data which has been approved by the government of India. "Sensitive information has been kept out of the public domain," said Jayaraman.
Isro chief spokesperson S Satish said compared to Google Earth, 'Bhuvan' is more "versatile" and provides data about different Indian cities. "It's more viewer-friendly," said Satish.
The tool would offer pictures of the globe, just like Google Earth, and navigable in the same way but currently has the best resolutions over the Indian sub-continent. It allows users to fly from space to street level, grab, spin and zoom down to any place. It also provides tools for measuring, drawing, saving, printing and visualizing thematic information. The resolutions currently on offer are good enough to view a vehicle moving on a road quite clearly.
Bhuvan currently only offers images taken between one and three years ago even over India. It combines satellite imagery from various sensors onboard IRS (Indian Remote Sensing) satellites and transposes them on a 3-D globe. As it keeps updating its database with more recent and higher resolution images, Bhuvan eventually promises to offer real-time data and images.
The application can be downloaded from http://bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in/