NISAR is a joint Earth observation mission between ISRO and the US space agency NASA for global observations over the entire landmass, including the polar cryosphere and the Indian Ocean region.
It is a dual-band (L-band and S-band) radar imaging mission with the capability of full polarimetric and interferometric operating modes to observe minor changes in soil, vegetation and the cryosphere.
A team of US space agency officials under Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate, are here and have held meetings with officials from the Indian Space Research Organization.
The trip would primarily focus on NISAR, “the largest collaboration ever” between NASA and ISRO, they said.
“I just came back from a meeting with the scientific secretary of ISRO and later tonight I have a meeting with the president of ISRO. I’m very excited for this meeting,” Zurbuchen said during a event at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) today. .
Calling NISAR a complex mission, he said progress had been made on NISAR after COVID-induced delays.
NASA Earth Science Division Director Karen M St. Germain said NISAR is a dual SAR, for which the United States is building an L-band SAR and ISRO is building an S-band .
Stating that this would be a mission with several unique capabilities and several firsts, she said: “We now have the payloads integrated into our facilities at JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab), we are going into testing. First , the launch integration tests then the functional tests, then everything will be transferred here to ISRO for integration on the satellite and for integration on the launcher, then the launch.”
Further noting that NASA and ISRO have worked together on an airborne testbed to test the radars, she said: “…what’s really exciting is the science, this mission is going to allow us to do for the first time, and in order to facilitate this science, we have built this airborne simulator together.”
NASA and ISRO, headquartered in Bengaluru, signed a partnership on September 30, 2014 to collaborate and launch NISAR.