The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch NISAR in 2024, deploying the most advanced radar system on a NASA science mission to date. The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) will observe nearly all of Earth’s land and ice surfaces twice every 12 days, measuring movements in extremely fine detail. It will also cover forest and agricultural areas in its survey to demonstrate to scientists how carbon is exchanged between plants and the atmosphere.
Mission NISAR was conceived by NASA and ISRO eight years ago in 2014, with the aim of powerfully demonstrating the capabilities of radar as a science tool to help scientists study Earth’s dynamic land and ice surfaces in detail. NISAR will be the first satellite with a mission to use two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) in its science payload to measure changes of less than one centimeter in our planet’s surface. NISAR’s payload, to be launched as part of a NASA science mission, will include the most advanced radar systems (L-band and S-band) ever launched. The system will have the largest radar antenna of its type, approximately 40 feet (12 m) in diameter and drum-shaped with a wire mesh reflector. The antenna will extend from a 30-foot (9-meter) boom.
Dual-frequency imaging radar satellites using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) capable of producing high-resolution images capable of penetrating clouds can collect data day and night regardless of weather conditions. This gives the mission the opportunity to observe a wide range of changes, from the flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets to the effects of earthquakes and volcanoes. NISAR will be loaded with two fully capable synthetic aperture radar instruments: NASA’s 24 cm-wavelength L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (L-SAR) and a 10-cm-wavelength S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (S-SAR) of ISRO. NISAR has a 240 km swath, 7 m resolution along track and 2-8 m resolution cross-track (depending on mode).
In addition, NASA is providing several essential components for the project, including radar reflector antennas, deployable booms, a high-speed communications subsystem for scientific data, GPS receivers, a reliable solid-state recorder, and payload data subsystems.
With the S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is equipping spacecraft buses and launch vehicles, as well as associated launch services and satellite mission operations. In March 2021, the S-band radar was built by ISRO and transferred to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
For two years, engineers devoted a significant amount of time to integrating the ISRO-supplied S-band radar with the JPL-built L-band system with the instrument, known as the science payload, followed by a series of tests to confirm. their compatibility. Once compatibility testing was confirmed, JPL engineers exported the science payload to India in a specially designed container in late February 2023 via a C-17 cargo plane, which landed in Bangalore on March 6.
In 2024, the NISAR satellite will be launched into a near-polar Earth orbit using ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s southeast coast. The satellite’s science payload will be integrated into its body for launch.
Space and Defense Analyst
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