NISAR earth observation satellite helps in forecasting natural hazards

Courtesy: NASA

New Delhi: US on Wednesday handed over NISAR, an earth observation to India that can be helpful in predicting the most challenging natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides. The satellite has been jointly developed by NASA and ISRO.

A US Air Force C-17 aircraft carrying the NASA-ISRO synthetic aperture radar (NISAR) has landed in Bengaluru, the US Consulate in Chennai said.

The satellite is made with the collaboration between the American space agency NASA and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

The satellite is expected to be launched in 2024 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh, into a near-polar orbit.

The satellite will operate for a minimum of three years. It is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO)
observatory. NISAR will map the entire globe in 12 days.

“Touchdown in Bengaluru! @ISRO receives NISAR (@NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) on a @USAirforce C-17 from @NASAJPL in California, setting the stage for final integration of the Earth observation satellite, a true symbol of #USIndia civil space collaboration. #USIndiaTogether,” the US Consulate General, Chennai tweeted. NISAR will be used by ISRO for a variety of purposes including agricultural mapping, and landslide-prone areas.

The mega satellite consists of two separate radars. While the long range – L-band radar – has been developed by American scientists, the S-band radar was independently readied by their Indian counterparts in Bengaluru.

Both were then transported to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where they were integrated into one unit. This has now been brought to India for the final launch aboard GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).

There are a lot of earth-observation satellites in space but NISAR has the capability to capture subtle changes on earth with unprecedented resolution and precision.

The radars will give it the capability to see through dense cloud cover, day and night, for the next three years. It can even detect changes as small as 10 m.

Once the radar is placed in space next year, it will start collecting voluminous data of how the earth, including the land and ice sheets, are changing down to fractions of an inch.

It will help in studying how fast ice sheets are melting, flow rate of glaciers, rise in sea levels and examine the impact of global warming.

It will also be able to detect depletion in groundwater levels, and how much of it has affected nearby regions and if there is any sinking of the land.

The mission will also empower the scientific community with a massive amount of data that can be helpful in predicting the most challenging natural hazards – earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides.


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