ISRO & NASA To Deliver First Jointly Developed NISAR Satellite By Year 2020-21
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator (L) and Jean Yves Le Gall, Chairman, CNES, French Space Agency (R) with ISRO Chairman, A.S. Kiran Kumar in New Delhi during 10th SPIE Asia- Pecific Remote Sensing Symposium
New Delhi, 04 April 2016
India and America both have committed today to deliver NISAR (NASA – ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) Satellite by 2020-21. The earth observation radar imaging remote sensing satellite is the first joint collaboration between both the nations. The satellite is first of its kind in the world to have employed dual frequencies in order to have unprecedented detailed view of the earth. The satellite will observe and take measurement of some of the planet’s most complex processes like earthquake detection, ice sheet collapse and ecosystem disturbances. The US is providing the ‘L’ band while ISRO will provide ‘S’ band. “The primary focus is to help us look into changes into the earth’s crust. We are looking for hence on for earthquake detection we can work as we know about where they gonna occur and we can advice people and can save loss of life. We are hoping to fly in year 2020-21”, says Charles Bolden, Administrator of NASA in New Delhi.
This is a program where ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) working together. The activity involves building a payload which carries S band synthetic aperture radar. It’s a new technology instrument while NASA provides the L band components of the electronics plus the antenna. The ISRO will provide The S band component and the payload gets integrated at the NASA JPL; then payload comes to Bangalore and it gets integrated with Satellite. Satellite is being built by ISRO and also launched by ISRO.
NISAR Satellite Concept Image (NASA JPL)
“So, currently the activities are going on in full swing. Both the Governments have cleared the basic mission. Now, we are preparing and working for the possible mission launch in 2021”, says AS Kiran Kumar, Chairman, ISRO in New Delhi. “As far as usage is concerned, the usage will have many significant inputs for our program. We are also looking for the biomass estimation from this because both L and S band whatever is available will provide us the significant inputs for our agriculture monitoring activities apart from what dimension we have”, elaborates ISRO Chairman.
The primary advantage is that the satellite will provide data for surface deformation, frequency of measurement, which is very significantly different from what is available now; and that is what is being looked at globally as new input for enabling a large number of applications to be brought about. “So this is a technology, which we call Sweep SAR technology, which is new technology and we are all very much excited about it because its for the first time that two of our agencies working together at such a big scale”. “While we have earlier built instrument along with CNES (French Space Agency) for the tropics, which we did together; But with NASA, this is first time we are working on a system where payload is going to be built together and we are very excited about that and we are looking forward”, says Kiran Kumar, ISRO Chairman.
The satellite can provide detection of surface deformation that is where one can measure accurately the variation in surface topography to the accuracy of 10s of milimeters so what it does for example, it is not earthquake prediction what it does is making measurement about the locations where large deformations are consistent observation of changes in the surface feature which will lead to stress levels being built at specific locations, which will help in understanding the behaviour of earthquake and earthquake phenomenon. “It is not that with this we will be in a position to forecast the earthquake. That is not the objective but the objective is making such studies in systemic and timely manner that will help in subsequent understanding”, explains ISRO Chairman.
NISAR is all weather day and night radar imaging which penetrates clouds. The rapid sampling over years to decades will allow scientists to understand earth processes and changes. The data collected from the NISAR satellite will allow both the nations to better manage their resources and let Government prepare for and cope with global change.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.