NISAR Mission on track for early 2024 launch, says JPL official

Project Scientist for NISAR at JPL Paul A. Rosen. File

Project Scientist for NISAR at JPL Paul A. Rosen. File

The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, designed to observe natural processes and changes in earth’s complex ecosystems, is on track for an “early 2024” launch, a senior official at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said on Sunday.

The final tests on the joint NASA-ISRO earth-observing mission are scheduled for this week, Paul A. Rosen, Project Scientist for NISAR at JPL, told The Hindu. “As we speak, everything except the acoustic tests has been completed. The vibration test was completed yesterday [Saturday]. Final tests are planned this week. We are on track,” Dr. Rosen said.

Also Read | NISAR satellite to map Himalayas’ seismic zones

Dr. Rosen and several of his NASA-JPL colleagues associated with NISAR are scheduled to speak at the Global Science Festival Kerala (GSFK), under way at Thonnakkal here on Monday.

‘Enormous data’

Designed as a low earth orbit (LEO) observatory, the NISAR mission is unique in several respects, not least the enormous amount of reliable, high resolution data expected from it over a three-year mission life. “The volume of data will be enormous, and it helps us to have a reliable set of measurements over any spot on the earth where we want to do science or monitoring applications, forest management, agriculture monitoring or even just looking at an approaching hurricane,” Dr. Rosen said.

The open science and open data policy makes the mission unique in its scope, he said. “The data will be placed on our respective data servers in India and the U.S. and they will be made open to the public essentially as soon as they are processed to a validated data product. For many SAR (synthetic aperture radar) missions, this is simply not the case,” he said.

Also Read |NASA, ISRO complete key tests ahead of NISAR’s launch early next year

The mission will use a synthetic aperture radar to scan earth’s land and ice-covered regions twice every 12 days in ascending and descending passes. Capable of penetrating cloud cover and operating day and night, NISAR is expected to revolutionise earth-observing capability.

Among other things, it is also expected to be a reliable data source for disaster monitoring and mitigation.

This single observatory solution is equipped with a long wavelength band (L-Band) SAR payload system provided by NASA and a short wavelength band (S-Band) ISRO payload. Operating together, they will supply, according to ISRO, “spatially and temporally consistent data for understanding changes in earth’s ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation biomass, sea level rise, groundwater and natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.”

Also Read | Explained | What are ISRO and NASA aiming to achieve with the NISAR satellite? 

“For those disasters that evolve over slightly longer periods of time or where you can actually plan an observation, like a hurricane approaching, for those things, you have a reliable data source,” Dr. Rosen said.

Dr. Rosen feels that NASA and ISRO are interested in taking their collaboration in space forward. “Both sides I think are extremely eager to find ways to collaborate on earth science, planetary science and human space (programmes). There is a very, very strong interest,” he said.

Dr. Rosen will speak on ‘NISAR – An International Radar System of Systems for Groundbreaking Earth Science’ at the GSFK on Monday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button