In the area of Satellite based remote sensing in the past, the first generation satellite IRS-1A and 1B were designed, developed and launched successfully during 1988 and 1991 with multi-spectral cameras with spatial resolution of 72.5 m and 36 m. respectively. Subsequently, the second generation remote sensing satellites IRS-1C and 1D with improved spatial resolutions of 70 m in multi-spectral and 5.8 m. in Panchromatic bands and a wide field sensor with 188m resolution and 800 Km. swath, have been developed and successfully launched in 1995 and 1997 respectively. These satellites have become the principal components in the National Natural Resource Management System and the data was used in various applications, viz., agriculture and soil, land form and land use studies, water resource, forestry, drought and flood monitoring, cartography, town planning and coastal zone monitoring. Especially IRS-1C/D data has been used for cartographic and town planning application up to 1:10,000 scale. These satellites also provide stereo pairs of imageries to get height information to an accuracy of approximately 10 meters.
With the above scenario, India has a lead in the civilian remote sensing field in the world not only in terms of realisation and launching of complex satellites with high, medium and coarse resolution cameras, but also in the application areas as well. In order to maintain this lead and also provide continuity of data to global users, Cartosat-1 with two improved fore and aft PAN cameras with better than 2.5 m. spatial resolution is planned to be realised for launch by middle of 2003. This paper briefly presents the technical elements and the planned data products of the Cartosat-1 spacecraft.