by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

Agni-V, the ‘China Killer’ launch delayed

It is now official.  The launch of the IRBM Agni-V, dubbed the ‘China Killer’ has been delayed due to bad weather and is expected to take place on Thursday.

update:  The China Killer Agni-V was successfully launched on Thursday.

The test launch was originally scheduled for 1900 IST from Wheeler Island off Odisha coast.  It is now expected to take place sometime tomorrow.

Too bad, I was sitting on top my apartment terrace thinking there is a chance of getting a glimpse of the missile as it flies past at a height of ~400 km in the night sky.  During daytime it would be impossible to spot.
Anyway after cruising the net, I found another site which offers the ability to paint circles of defined radius on Google Maps.  The one detailed in the earlier post painted a polygon and as you could see wasn’t too impressive.  Another problem was there was no way to paint additional circles or of different colours, which hindered comparison.

If you are interested in how I achieved the composite, I did it manually.  Took snapshots of each circle and in re-coloured the polygons, selected them with the magic-wand tool, copy-pasted into the master image.

But with freemaptools, it is a breeze [].  We can paint umpteen number of circles with:
  • different radius from same point or,
  • with same radius from different points, and,
  • varying the colours,
which means more precision.

Here is the range map of Agni-V, the ‘China Killer’, from Nagercoil, Calcutta and New Delhi.  This one shows that all of China, except for the really far out parts of Heilongjiang, cannot escape the rain of fire, even when the China Killer is launched from New Delhi.

This also shows the range circle getting more oblong as the launch site is moved away from the equator towards the poles.  The New Delhi range circle is almost an ‘egg’ shape when compared to a more circular Nagercoil range circle.


With Free Map Tools, it is also possible to draw different range circles from a location near the poles and see the distortion when projected or imagined in a ‘flat’ map.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I plotted a missile range circle around Moscow with 2000, 3000, 5000 and 10,000 km radii.  While the 2000 km one is almost a circle, the 3000 km plot starts to display the oblong characteristic.


But look at the 5000 and 10,000 km radii plots.  They appear sinusoidal.  This shouldn’t confuse you, but if does, here is the explanation.  Technically, it is because we are trying to interpret a 3 Dimensional object, Earth, with 2 Dimensional tool, a paper/digital map.

If that is too geeky for you, here is the simple explanation.  What we have been trained from kindergarten is to imagine or see the world as it is depicted above.  The above is what we in India usually see, with Japan and Australia to our right or East, hence ‘Far-East’ and the Americas to our left or West, hence ‘Western’ nations.

What we forget or don’t imagine is the fact that Americas are in reality on the other side of the globe, with respect to India - and also to Moscow.  Thus for a missile to reach the US from Moscow, it will not be fired along the latitude from Moscow overflying Europe and the North Atlantic.  Instead it will be fired over the North Pole.

When the 10,000 km range circle is interpreted on a flat map, we see this distortion.  10,000 km from Moscow going South gets us to the tip of Africa to Cape of Good Hope, well south of the Tropic of Capricorn.  But when going North over the pole, only gets us as far as the US-Mexico border, short of the Tropic of Cancer.

That is the reason the orbits of Polar Satellite orbits are shown in such a crazy fashion.  The satellite does not have a path which ‘wobbles’, but its orbit when shown on a flat map ‘will’ be thus.


If that makes your head wobble, as mine does, have a nice day or night!

1 comment:

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