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NISAR: Joint Earth Observing Mission of NASA and ISRO

  • 30 Mar 2021
  • 4 min read

Why in News

NASA and ISRO are collaborating on developing an SUV-sized satellite called NISAR, which will detect movements of the planet’s surface as small as 0.4 inches over areas about half the size of a tennis court.

  • The satellite will be launched in 2022 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) into a near-polar orbit.

Key Points

  • The Name ‘NISAR’: The name NISAR is short for NASA-ISRO-SAR.
    • SAR here refers to the Synthetic Aperture Radar that NASA will use to measure changes in the surface of the Earth.
    • It refers to a technique for producing high-resolution images. Because of the precision, the radar can penetrate clouds and darkness, which means that it can collect data day and night in any weather.
  • Function: It will scan the globe every 12 days over the course of its three-year mission of imaging the Earth’s land, ice sheets and sea ice to give an unprecedented view of the planet.
  • Role of NASA:
    • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA - space agency of the USA) will provide one of the radars for the satellite, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers and a payload data subsystem.
    • NISAR will be equipped with the largest reflector antenna ever launched by NASA.
  • Role of ISRO:
  • Primary Goals:
    • Tracking subtle changes in the Earth’s surface,
    • Spotting warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions,
    • Helping to monitor groundwater supplies, and
    • Tracking the rate at which ice sheets are melting.
  • Expected Benefits:
    • NISAR's data can help people worldwide better manage natural resources and hazards, as well as providing information for scientists to better understand the effects and pace of climate change.
      • The images will be detailed enough to show local changes and broad enough to measure regional trends.
    • As the mission continues for years, the data will allow for better understanding of the causes and consequences of land surface changes.
    • It will also add to our understanding of our planet's hard outer layer, called its crust.

S-Band Radar

  • S band radars operate on a wavelength of 8-15 cm and a frequency of 2-4 GHz.
  • Because of the wavelength and frequency, S-band radars are not easily attenuated. This makes them useful for near and far range weather observation.
  • The drawback to this band of radar is that it requires a large antenna dish and a large motor to power it. It is not uncommon for a S-band dish to exceed 25 feet in size.

Source: IE

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