NASA head to visit ISRO facilities in Bengaluru to review NISAR spacecraft   

November 29, 2023 08:19 pm | Updated November 30, 2023 03:21 am IST - Bengaluru

NASA  Administrator Bill Nelson and Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma during a conversation ‘Reaching for the Stars’ between NASA and ISRO, as part of the student outreach programme, in Bengaluru on November 29, 2023.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma during a conversation ‘Reaching for the Stars’ between NASA and ISRO, as part of the student outreach programme, in Bengaluru on November 29, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

NASA administrator Bill Nelson will visit the ISRO facilities in Bengaluru on November 30 to review the ongoing work on the NISAR spacecraft, a joint Earth-observing mission of NASA and ISRO.

“I will join Rakesh [former Indian astronaut Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma (retd)] tomorrow. We will both see NISAR together. I am looking forward to this visit. There are two radars on the NISAR in two different bands, one is built by India and the other by the U.S.,” Mr. Nelson told reporters here on Wednesday.

NISAR — short for NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar — is undergoing testing and integration at ISRO facilities in Bengaluru prior to its launch early next year from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota onboard ISRO’s GSLV Mark-II launch vehicle.

NISAR carries L and S dual-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which operates with the Sweep SAR technique to achieve large swaths with high-resolution data. 

While NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is providing the mission’s L-band SAR, ISRO’s U.R. Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band SAR electronics, the launch vehicle, and associated launch services and satellite mission operations.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Nelson along with Wing Commander Sharma interacted with students during an event entitled ‘Reaching for the Stars : A Conversation with NASA and ISRO’.

During the interaction, Mr. Nelson said space unifies rivals both internationally and domestically.

“We, jointly with the Russians, operate the International Space Station. We built the space station together in 1998 and we are going to continue it till 2030. The unity is obvious. The future international missions that are going to the moon are another example, so space unifies. Space even unifies in our domestic politics, in America, there is such a deep division between Republicans and Democrats but when it comes to space they all come together in agreement,” Mr. Nelson said.

Recalling his time when he was part of the Space Shuttle Columbia, mission STS-61C in 1986, he said, ”When I looked back at Earth, I saw something different from what I felt every day. When I looked I did not see racial division, I did not see religious division, and did not see political division. What I saw is that we are all in this together, we are all citizens of planet Earth. 

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