Part of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite rests in a thermal vacuum chamber – meant to mimic the conditions found in space – at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2020. Engineers tested the hardware in conditions similar to the ones NISAR will experience in space to see how it will hold up.
The SUV-size Earth satellite will track subtle changes in the planet's surface as small as 0.4 inches (a centimeter) over areas about the size of half a tennis court. NISAR will spot warning signs of imminent volcanic eruptions, help to monitor groundwater supplies, track the melt rate of ice sheets, and observe shifts in the distribution of vegetation around the world.
The mission is a joint effort between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) that will use two kinds of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) – operating on different wavelengths, an L-band and S-band – to measure changes in Earth's surface. JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, leads the U.S. component of the project as well as providing the mission's L-band SAR. NASA is also providing the radar reflector antenna, the deployable boom, a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder, and payload data subsystem. ISRO is providing the spacecraft bus, the S-band SAR, the launch vehicle, and associated launch services and satellite mission operations.
To learn more about the mission, visit: https://nisar.jpl.nasa.gov/