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

NISAR is scheduled for launch in 2024 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

March 09, 2023 03:09 pm | Updated 05:25 pm IST

NISAR in the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

NISAR in the clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. | Photo Credit: PTI

The facts

The background

  • NISAR is the first satellite mission that will collect radar data in two microwave bandwidth ranges: L-band (1-2 GHz, commonly used for satellite communication and remote sensing) and S-band (2-4 GHz, commonly used for satellite communication and weather monitoring). ‘
  • ‘SAR’ is a type of remote-sensing technology that uses radars instead of optical sensors to create high-resolution images of the earth’s surface. It can penetrate clouds and vegetation to generate accurate data.
  • NISAR will image the entire land and ice masses of the earth four to six times a month. The output is expected to be available within a couple of days of the observation and within hours in cases of disasters.

Why it matters

NASA and ISRO plan to accomplish the following through NISAR:

  • Disaster mapping: A collection of pre-disaster images will be used to better understand disasters and inform official policy on the best courses of action in future. Satellite observations will also be uninterrupted by weather, thus providing quick and reliable information for rescue operations and loss estimates.
  • Changes in permafrost: NISAR will be programmed to observe global changes in permafrost at regular intervals, updating scientists about its degradation, with implications for global water resources, aquatic ecosystems, coastal water levels, etc.
  • Forests: Forests provide timber, fuel, and a variety of products, act as carbon sinks (sequestering excess carbon in the atmosphere), purify air and water resources, and are habitats for multiple plant and animal species. NISAR will monitor global forest resources, their extent, and quality and provide information for their sustainable development and management.
  • Agriculture and food security: SAR imaging of crop rotation, growth, and harvest can be used to streamline planned agricultural output and monitor the health of crops.

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