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Eco-Astronomy for Monitoring and Conserving Earth's Environment

  • 19 Jan 2024

"Eco-astronomy" refers to the application of astronomical observations and technologies to monitor, study, and conserve Earth's environment. While traditionally, astronomy has focused on studying celestial bodies beyond Earth, recent advancements in observational techniques and technologies have enabled scientists to utilize space-based observations for Earth-centric purposes. Here are some ways in which eco-astronomy contributes to monitoring and conserving Earth's environment:

Earth Observation Satellites

India now operates one of the biggest constellations of satellites for remote sensing. Numerous instruments have been installed atop these satellites to deliver the essential data in a range of geographical, spectral, and temporal resolutions to meet the needs of various national and international users. Numerous applications spanning agriculture, water resources, urban planning, rural development, environment, forestry, ocean resources, and disaster management use the data from these satellites.

Remote Sensing

Space-based telescopes and satellites equipped with advanced sensors can monitor Earth's surface, oceans, and atmosphere, providing valuable data for environmental studies. A variety of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Missions observing Earth with optical, microwave, and hyperspectral instruments flown onboard to provide necessary data in various spatial, spectral, and temporal resolutions to cater to different user requirements in the country and for global usage.

ISRO has had a thriving Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) program since 1988. Since the initial IRS optical mission, IRS-1A, and SAR imaging missions, more than 13 IRS satellites have provided satellite data products, with NRSC (National Remote Sensing Centre) serving as the nodal centre for hosting these products.

  • The main responsibility of satellites is to cover India and its environs either automatically or whenever the user requests it, depending on the mission's capabilities.
  • In addition, NRSC collects and maintains global region data for studies, calibrations, and disasters. Global coverage of climate and weather models is provided by near real-time data items from IRS weather forecasters.
  • The NRSC Data Archive is widely used in scientific research, weather applications, ocean studies, land use and land cover monitoring, and meteorological applications.

Governmental organisations, businesses, and academics all greatly benefit from the priceless large data products repository and technology to achieve their individual goals.

Climate Monitoring

Observations from satellites contribute to monitoring climate change, including temperature variations, sea level rise, and changes in ice cover. In India, weather forecasting and monitoring rely on satellite data from INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR.

The INSAT Meteorological Data Processing (IMDPS) system processes data from these satellites to produce quantitative products and images across all channels. The largest domestic communication system in the Asia Pacific region is INSAT, which came into service in 1983. This mission's primary goals are to safeguard people and property by offering an operational, environmental, and storm warning system.

INSAT-3D observes the oceans, tracking the earth's surface, and offering data distribution services. It was designed to improve meteorological observations, monitor land and ocean surfaces, and create a vertical temperature and humidity profile of the atmosphere for weather forecasting and hazard alerts.

Weather and Natural Disaster Prediction

Owing to its varied geo-climatic circumstances and its location as an intertropical convergence point, India experiences earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, floods, landslides, and droughts yearly. However, advancements in Earth Observation (EO) technology are currently fostering the growth of ever-more potent uses of geospatial technologies for disaster management, as well as innovative concepts.

  • Meteorological satellite data is utilised for cyclone tracking, intensity assessment, landfall prediction, and extreme weather forecasting. After that, this data is put to use tracking disaster occurrences and calculating losses.
  • The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is primarily in charge of advising ACWCs (Area Cyclone Warning Centres) on how to issue cyclone warnings.

More powerful natural disasters are a sign of climate change, and EO data is giving scientists crucial information that is assisting them in developing a thorough knowledge of the Earth from space. Additionally, when more sophisticated equipment and tools are created, new satellites with enhanced features and data-gathering capabilities are launched annually, enabling scientists to make better judgments and contribute to the survival of catastrophic disasters.

Biodiversity Conservation

Satellite imagery assists in monitoring changes in ecosystems, deforestation, and land use, supporting conservation efforts. Mapping the distribution of animals, evaluating habitats, keeping an eye on human activity, and setting up early warning systems are all accomplished by satellite remote sensing.

  • Planning for conservation, restoring habitat, and identifying possible risks to biodiversity are all aided by it. The thorough evaluation of human activity and habitats promotes sustainable land management techniques—technology for satellite remote sensing aids in preserving wildlife, particularly endangered species.
  • Experts can gain vital insights into breeding grounds, migration patterns, and the effects of climate change on different species by monitoring the movements of animals and changes in habitat from space.
    • Tracking animal migration patterns and monitoring habitats from space contribute to wildlife conservation.

Scientists may map and assess a variety of ecosystems, such as wetlands, forests, coral reefs, and even the habitats of endangered species, by using satellite photography. This data is useful for evaluating ecosystem health, spotting possible risks, and creating practical conservation plans.

  • Areas with particularly high levels of endemism and species richness are known as biodiversity hot spots, and satellite remote sensing helps to discover them. By properly allocating resources and prioritising conservation efforts, this knowledge helps to maximize the effects of protective measures.
  • The use of satellite remote sensing technology has revolutionised conservation efforts. It facilitates informed decision-making and proactive conservation initiatives by offering insightful information on ecosystems, wildlife, forestry, agriculture, and water resources.

By utilising this potent technology, we can better protect our environment for coming generations.

Impact Assessment of Climate Change

Satellite remote sensing offers important new perspectives on how biodiversity is affected by climate change. Scientists can predict future shifts in the distribution of species, identify the susceptibility of various ecosystems, and develop adaptation techniques by keeping an eye on changes in temperature, vegetation, and water availability.

  • Satellites are essential for keeping an eye on forests and spotting illicit logging activity. Authorities can watch changes in the forest cover, identify regions that are experiencing deforestation, and take prompt action to stop more loss by analyzing satellite data.
  • By updating a projected area and adding a more current image to assess changes over time, Satellite Imaging Corporation (SIC) can offer satellite image datasets for vegetation and land cover use, monitoring change detection, and climate change.

As new satellite constellations are launched and Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Computer Vision (CV) algorithms and management systems become available, it will be possible to detect emissions from both natural and industrial sources to monitor climate change and observe and comprehend changes in our weather and surroundings.

  • Many application areas for vegetation and ecosystem dynamics connected to global climate change, such as CO2 (carbon dioxide ), CH4 (methane), and CO4 (carbon tetroxide) detection, disaster monitoring, weather patterns, land surface climatology, hydrology, and land cover change, can benefit from satellite remote sensing.
    • Due to the rise in CO4, methane, and CO2 released into our atmosphere, aeroplanes and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can forecast behaviour and deliver reports on climate change in almost real-time using imagery gathered by satellites.
  • With the use of cutting-edge technology, scientists can now forecast these shifts and produce models to track, regulate, and measure the number of greenhouse gases generated, which can help slow down the acceleration of weather patterns.


Eco-astronomy exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of scientific research, where tools and techniques developed for space exploration contribute to understanding and addressing environmental challenges on Earth. By leveraging space-based observations, researchers can obtain a more comprehensive perspective on the Earth's environment, enabling informed conservation and sustainable management practices.


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