Missing jet: Isro awaits govt nod to deploy space assets

Inputs to be shared with signatories of International Treaty on Space

Missing jet: Isro awaits govt nod to deploy space assets

With sleuths probing the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur having proposed that the aircraft could have crashed in the Bay of Bengal or somewhere in the deep southern side of the Indian ocean, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) might assist in the search for the plane. 

Top Isro officials told Deccan Herald: “Isro would be ready to assist in the search if the highest authority in the country asks it to do so, and also if a specific request comes from Malaysia, again subject to approval of the Government of India.” 

Asked who the competent authority would be to permit Isro to deploy its space assets, the officials said, “It would be the people in charge of space. This may include in the least the prime minister, the Isro chairman and the Department of Space secretary. There may also be consultations with other important people of the government.”

The officials added that India is a signatory to the International Treaty on Space and Disasters—a worldwide charter for sharing satellite transmission with countries and agencies involved in humanitarian work in the wake of disasters. 

Whatever inputs the satellites get, they would be shared with co-signatories to the treaty, which came up in 2000 due to initiatives taken by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French Space Agency CNES. The disasters could be any kind—earthquake, tsunami, oil spill, hurricane, landslide, excessive snowfall, floods, volcanic eruption, etc. 

“Members of this treaty can invoke it and forward a request for sharing information from satellites to help mitigate the disaster. But the only issue is whether a plane crash can be defined as a disaster in terms of natural disasters like earthquakes and floods. That’s a call the member countries will have to take. This will involve discussions and consultations, but countries may not be very strict when it comes to a crisis like a plane crash.” 

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