NISAR: Tracking Earth’s Changes From Space (Mission Overview)
NASA and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) have teamed up to create a powerful new space mission that will track our changing Earth in fine detail. The satellite, called NISAR, will use an advanced radar system to deepen our understanding of deforestation, shrinking glaciers and sea ice loss, natural hazards, climate change, and other global vital signs.
Short for NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, NISAR features two radar instruments: one from ISRO, and one built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Peering through cloud cover and vegetation, the satellite will bounce radar signals off nearly all the planet’s land and ice twice every 12 days, monitoring motions of the surface down to fractions of an inch along with changes in other characteristics.
NISAR is undergoing final integration and testing at ISRO’s satellite facility in Bengaluru, India, and will launch from ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Launch is expected in early 2024; the specific date will be announced by ISRO.
For more information on the NISAR mission, visit: https://nisar.jpl.nasa.gov/.
Paul Rosen (Project Scientist, NISAR, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
With NISAR, we're tracking the changes of the solid Earth and how it's moving – ecosystems, ice cover, and any other thing that's changing at the scale of a centimeter on the Earth – in a way that we've never been able to see before.
Because of these very subtle motions we can measure, we're able to understand what's happening below the surface of the Earth at great precision. We can see subsidence, and that allows us then to manage resources of what's happening below the Earth.
Deepak Putrevu (Science Co-Lead, NISAR, Indian Space Research Organisation)
Scientists want to study the movements of the Earth's surface to understand the processes that could trigger earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides.
And that allows us then to understand risks associated with natural hazards.
Which in turn can help in mitigation measures and early response. Other changes over the Earth’s surface include melting of glaciers and ice sheets, changes in forest biomass, soil moisture, and shoreline changes.
Wendy Edelstein (Deputy Project Manager, NISAR, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
It's based on radar, so it has two different frequency radars and it basically looks through clouds and sees the surface of the Earth.
What you're seeing is an animation of how the radar collects data, and you can see these beams coming down from the antenna and coming back, and on the ground you can see the swath and that's where it collects the data. And when it combines them all together, you get what we need for the science.
We can see day and night, through clouds, and we’re covering all of the land and all of the ice-covered surfaces of Earth every week.
NISAR is quite unique in that it has two radars: one provided by NASA, one provided by ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation.
Since 2014, NASA and ISRO have collaborated to build and launch NISAR
Chaitra Rao (Deputy Project Director, NISAR, Indian Space Research Organisation)
NASA and ISRO have collaborated in this mission. Till last year we were there at JPL-NASA, where the radars got integrated and tested and were shipped back to India.
And now the spacecraft is getting integrated with the instruments and they're being tested together. NISAR is going to be launched from Sriharikota, which is an ISRO launch pad, and it is going to be launched by a GSLV Mark II.
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
So we are just looking forward for the launch of NISAR in the forthcoming year.
NISAR is measuring the changes on the Earth’s surface, which are either factors or indicators of climate change. The society will also immensely benefit due to its contribution towards disaster management and providing food and water security.
These things are global problems that the global community needs to come together to resolve.
Now it looks like we are no more belonging to two different worlds, and we all belong to the space community. That's it.
There's the excitement about what we are going to learn that we didn't even anticipate we're going to learn.
The NISAR mission is targeted to launch in 2024.
For the latest updates on the mission, go to: nisar.jpl.nasa.gov