Radar systems for joint NASA-ISRO mission arrive in Bengaluru
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission will measure earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces and ice masses to provide information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise and groundwater
Two radar systems for the first collaboration between the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on an earth-observing mission have arrived in Bengaluru ahead of the 2024 launch of the mission.
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission will measure earth’s changing ecosystems, dynamic surfaces and ice masses to provide information about biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise and groundwater. The mission is also expected to support several other applications.
The science payload of two radar systems, one built by NASA and the other by ISRO, were flown by a C-17 heavy lift aircraft of the US Air Force from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California to ISRO’s UR Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru on March 6.
NISAR will have the most advanced radar system launched on a NASA science mission. Teams at the facility in Bengaluru will combine the radar systems with the satellite’s body and run it through tests ahead of its three-year mission, JPL said in a statement.
The satellite will observe nearly all of earth’s land and ice surfaces twice every 12 days, measuring movements in extremely fine detail. It will survey forests and agricultural regions to help scientists understand carbon exchange between plants and the atmosphere.
NISAR’s payload will feature the largest radar antenna of its kind – a drum-shaped, wire mesh reflector nearly 40 feet in diameter that will extend from a 30-foot boom.
The mission’s science instruments consist of L- and S-band radars. ISRO built the S-band radar, which it shipped to JPL in March 2021. US engineers spent the last two years integrating the instrument with the JPL-built L-band system and then conducted tests to verify both systems work together.
In late February, technicians and engineers at JPL finalised the science payload for being shipped to Bengaluru. The satellite is set to be launched on ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II rocket, which will lift off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre and deliver NISAR into a near-polar earth orbit in 2024.
Once in operation, NISAR will collect measurements day and night, in all weather conditions, and its data will help researchers understand a broad range of earth science topics, including landslides, groundwater loss and the carbon cycle.
NASA is providing the radar reflector antenna, deployable boom, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder, and payload data subsystem. ISRO is providing the satellite, the S-band radar, the launch vehicle, and associated launch services and satellite mission operations.