NASA and ISRO are joining forces in a joint space mission to map Earth every 12 days
- byStartup Story | November 15, 2023
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) is on track for launch in the first quarter of 2024, after basic tests, particularly those related to vibration, NASA officials have confirmed. Speaking during a media interaction in Bengaluru, NASA’s NISAR Project Director Phil Parrilla said: “ISRO is anticipating the first quarter of next year. So, I mean this is ready. The expected launch of NISAR, popularly known as ‘Naisar,’ is expected to take place.” “No later than January” from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, using ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-II.
The three-year mission aims to survey all of Earth’s land and ice-covered surfaces every 12 days, starting with the satellite’s 90-day operational period. Phil Parrella highlighted key pending tests, noting that “vibration testing is currently underway, but there is a significant number of performance tests that we need to do.” He stressed the need to conduct battery and simulation tests to ensure optimal system performance, saying: “We will conduct performance tests on the radars and various electronics of the spacecraft. So, there is still a lot of testing, but testing large environments, the only test left now, is vibration.”
Dr. Lori Lishin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, expressed optimism about the NISAR project, calling it “better than anything launched in the past.” She emphasized the project’s improved capability, saying: “Although there are data sets from previous missions that can form a kind of baseline, this is a new level of capability that we will have with NISAR.” Leshin highlighted the importance of NISAR’s ability to do extended missions, saying: “If it works very well, we will certainly extend that mission to get that longer baseline. It’s very important to see the Earth changing on multi-year timescales. That’s what We’re looking for him.”
NISAR, a joint project between ISRO and NASA, is set to map the entire Earth in 12 days, providing consistent data for understanding changes in Earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, plant biomass, sea level rise, groundwater, and natural hazards. The project aims to understand carbon storage dynamics, ice sheet responses to climate change, sea ice interactions with climate, and impacts on global sea level rise.
The satellite, which has a mass of about 2,800 kilograms and is the size of an SUV, will be powered by two solar arrays that generate about four kilowatts of power. Equipped with synthetic aperture radar instruments and antennas, NISAR’s capabilities include detecting even subtle changes at a distance of one centimeter of space. The six-foot-tall spacecraft bus will support its command and communications systems, radar antenna reflectors, and arms, with enough fuel for at least five years of operations, according to NASA.