NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)

Context:

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) is anticipated to be launched in the first quarter of 2024.

Relevance:

GS-03 (Space technology)

Details:

  • NISAR is slated for launch aboard India’s GSLV. The data acquired from NISAR will be particularly valuable for examining land ecosystems, solid earth deformation, mountain and polar cryosphere dynamics, as well as sea ice and coastal oceans at both regional and global scales.
  • ISRO’s S-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) has been integrated with NASA’s L-band SAR at JPL/NASA. The integrated L & S band SAR is presently undergoing testing with the satellite at URSC, Bangalore, with the active involvement of NASA/JPL officials.
  • In a collaborative effort, ISRO and NASA have established a Joint Working Group (JWG) focused on human spaceflight cooperation. They are exploring collaborative avenues in areas such as radiation impact studies, micrometeorite and orbital debris shield studies, as well as space health and medicine aspects.
  • Furthermore, ISRO is investigating the feasibility of leveraging NASA’s Hypervelocity Impact Test (HVIT) facility for conducting tests related to the protection shields against Micrometeoroid and orbital debris (MMOD) for the Gaganyaan module.

Key Highlights from the Interview with ISRO Chairman S. Somanath

  • NISAR Satellite Launch: The NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite, featuring S-band and L-band radars, will monitor tectonic movements, water bodies, and vegetation, providing comprehensive earth coverage twice a month. Originally scheduled for July, the launch has been postponed to October-November due to issues on the U.S. side of the spacecraft.
  • Chandrayaan-4 Mission: Chandrayaan-4, a sample-return mission, is under development as part of India’s plan to land on the moon by 2040. This mission aims to drill and collect lunar samples, requiring a new method due to the lack of a suitable rocket.
  • Spadex (Space Docking Experiment): Scheduled for year-end, Spadex will demonstrate autonomous docking technology, essential for future missions like building an Indian space station. The project is in the testing phase with all systems nearly ready.
  • Gaganyaan Mission: The Gaganyaan project is progressing with ongoing tests for the crew module and parachute system. An Indian astronaut is planned to fly to the International Space Station (ISS) this year, with the unmanned Gaganyaan G-1 mission also in preparation.
  • Sukhrayaan Mission to Venus: The ISRO has completed designs and configurations for the Sukhrayaan project, aimed at sending a probe to Venus, and is seeking government approval.
  • New Initiatives and Technologies: ISRO is working on several new projects, including the Bharatiya Antariksha Station (targeted for 2028), the New Generation Launch Vehicle (NGLV) named Surya, a quantum key distribution satellite, and a software-defined radio satellite for aircraft monitoring in Indian airspace.