After passing M.Sc. in physics Mr. Joseph joined as a lecturer in Union Christian College (UCC) Aluva, founded way back in 1921, one of the oldest institutes of higher education in Kerala. After serving in UCC for two academic years (1959-61), he served for a few months as lecturer in Physics at CMS College, Kottayam before joining AEET training school, Bombay.
After successfully completing the course at the AEET training school he was selected to join the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. His research activities were initially studying the composition of primary cosmic radiation using different types of detectors, flown to high altitudes using balloons. Later his interest shifted to investigate the possibility of production of neutrons during solar flare which is fundamental to the understanding of solar surface nuclear reactions. He was first amongst the few to set useful upper limits on the flux of solar neutron during solar flares. At TIFR, as part of the research work, he has developed a number of particle detector systems such as scintillation, Cerenkov and spark chamber detectors for use in balloon borne experiments. A novel detector system designed by him was flown on the first Indian Satellite ARYABHATA to detect solar neutrons. Based on these research works Bombay University awarded Ph.D degree in 1971 for the thesis ’A Search for Energetic Neutrons During Solar Flare’.
In 1973 he was invited to join the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, one of the major centers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). His initial assignment at SAC was to develop earth observation systems for remote sensing. Serious work on earth observation sensors at ISRO started in 1973 under his leadership. Under his overall guidance a number of sensors were developed for ground, aircraft and satellite platforms. These include ground-truth radiometers, multispectral scanners, multiband TV camera for Bhaskara satellite, CCD cameras for the operational Indian Remote Sensing satellite (IRS), Very High Resolution Radiometer (VHRR) for meteorological observation from INSAT, etc. He introduced CCD technology for earth imaging systems in India, which enabled the country to be at par with advanced countries in space based remote sensing. Excellent performance of IRS satellite with high quality imageries generated by its CCD camera, and the excellent pictures from VHRR have put India amongst a few select countries of the world with earth observation capability from space. The IRS PAN Camera with a resolution of 5 meter flown on IRS 1C in 1995 was the best spatial resolution civilian earth observation system at that time. As a part of these efforts, he has established an electro-optical laboratory, which is comparable to the best in the world with capability to design, manufacture and test a variety of complex optical systems and sensors of state-of-the-art.
He is rightfully considered the pioneer of satellite based imaging sensors in the country.
Apart from being the guiding force for the development of all earth observation remote sensors developed by ISRO, Dr Joseph has made substantial contribution towards the realisation of various remote sensing related activities such as data products generation, image processing techniques, and evolving methodology for utilisation of Remote Sensing data for various applications.
During 1998–2003, as Satish Dhawan Distinguished Professor, Dr. Joseph has been engaged in research/studies related to various aspects of remote sensing technology & applications and actively involved in shaping and guiding remote sensing programmes of India. He chaired the committee to evolve a 25 years Earth Observation Programme, which brought out a strategic plan – EO 2025. Another noteworthy contribution of Dr Joseph during this period is the study report on Indian Mission to Moon in the capacity as Chairman, Lunar Mission Study Task Force.
During 2006-2009, he was Director, Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTE-AP), (affiliated to the UN) with headquarters at Dehradun. Some of the contributions during his tenure as Director CSSTEAP include having an agreement with ITC, The Netherlands and CSSTEAP to exempt CSSTEAP RS&GIS diploma holders to have exemption of a few credits when they appear for ITC postgraduate course. He has also generated a document ‘CSSTEAP Performance Assessment and Outlook for the Future’ giving a critical assessment of how CSSTEAP has been performing and some managerial changes for better functioning of the Center.
Dr. Joseph has served in a number of national and international committees/organisations including President of Technical Commission–1 of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ISPRS) during 1996-2000.
He has published a number of scientific papers in national/international journals and has authored three books in the field of remote sensing.
He is Fellow of member of National Academies/organizations.
He is recipient of number of awards including the Government of India’s civilian award – Padma Bhushan.