Earth Observation

The Indian Remote sensing programme is driven by the user needs. In fact, the first remote sensing based pilot project was carried out to identify coconut root-wilt disease in Kerala way back in 1970. This pilot project led the development of Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites. Varieties of instruments have been flown onboard the IRS satellites to provide necessary data in a diversified spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to cater to different user requirements in the country and for global usage.

These IRS satellites observe the planet Earth from space and provide us periodically synoptic and systematic information pertaining to land, ocean and atmosphere and several aspects of environment. This information is a key ingredient in the programmes of the government at the Centre and State towards ensuring food and water security, sustaining our environment and eco-system, understanding weather and climate, monitoring and management of natural resources, planning and monitoring of developmental activities, support to management and mitigation during disaster events, and information for better governance.

Application Projects in Diversified Areas

Agriculture & Soils


  • Crop production forecast
  • Saline/sodic soils mapping
  • Agro-Met services& disaster surveillance (pest, floods, drought)
  • Horticulture development


Bio Resources and Environment


  • Forest cover and type mapping
  • Wetland inventory & conservation plans
  • Bio diversity characterization
  • Desertification status mapping
  • Coastal, mangroves, Coral Related
  • Snow and glacier studies




  • Large scale mapping
  • Satellite based topo-map updation
  • Digital Elevation Model (Carto-DEM)
  • Cadastral level mapping


Geology and Mineral Resources


  • Landslide hazard zonation
  • Mineral /oil exploration, mining areas
  • Seiesmo-tectonic studies
  • Engineering and geo-environmental studies


Ocean and Meteorology


  • Ocean primary productivity
  • Ocean status forecast
  • Storm surge modelling
  • Regional weather prediction
  • Tropical cyclone and mesoscale studies
  • Extended range monsoon prediction


Rural Development


  • National Drinking Water mission
  • Wasteland mapping/updation
  • watershed development and monitoring
  • Land records modernization plan


Urban Development


  • Urban sprawl mapping of major cities
  • Master / structure plans
  • Comprehensive development plans of selected cities / towns
  • Base map generation for towns
  • National urban information system


Water Resources


  • Irrigation infrastructure assessment
  • Water resource information system
  • Snow melt run-off estimation
  • Reservoir capacity evaluation
  • Site selection for hydro-power


Natural Resources Census


  • Periodic inventory of natural resources under NR Census programme
  • Land use/land cover, soil, geomorphology, wetland, land degradation, snow and glacier, vegetation


Disaster Management Support


  • Operationally addressing various natural disasters like floods, cyclone, drought, landslide, earthquake and forest fire
  • Research and development on early warning systems and decision support tools


Climate Change Studies


  • Mapping the indications, monitoring the agents and modelling the impact
  • Characterization of climate variables
  • Methane emission and Timberline study


The remote sensing applications and geospatial technology oriented projects at National, Regional, State and local levels are carried out through a well-established multi-pronged implementation architecture of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) in the country. Major ISRO/ DOS Centres, namely, National Remote Sensing Centre and Space Applications Centre (SAC), spearhead all such applications development and implementation initiatives.

Regional Remote Sensing Centres (RRSCs) of NRSC, North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC), Shillong and respective State Remote Sensing Applications Centres play a major role in applications and addressing local requirements for effective utilisation of the technology. User Ministries of State and Central Government departments and others institutions play a major role in utilising the technology in their own departments through the NNRMS system. In addition, private sector, Non-Governmental Organisations and academia also play a major role in the usage of this technology in different developmental sectors of the country.