Science & Tech

NISAR: A NASA-ISRO collaboration

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), an earth-observation satellite jointly developed by NASA and ISRO, is set to be shipped to India later this month for a September launch.


  • Under a partnership agreement signed in 2014, space agencies from the United States and India collaborated to build NISAR.
  • The satellite, weighing 2,800 kilogrammes, is equipped with both L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instruments, making it a dual-frequency imaging radar satellite.
  • ISRO provided the S-band radar, the GSLV launch system, and the spacecraft, while NASA provided the L-band radar, GPS, a high-capacity solid-state recorder to store data, and a payload data subsystem.
  • The satellite’s large 39-foot stationary antenna reflector is also an important component.
  • The reflector, which is made of gold-plated wire mesh, will be used to focus the radar signals emitted and received by the upward-facing feed on the instrument structure.

What exactly is the mission?

  • NISAR will observe subtle changes in Earth’s surfaces once launched into space, allowing researchers to better understand the causes and consequences of such phenomena.
  • It will detect natural disaster warning signs such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and landslides.
  • The satellite will also measure groundwater levels, track glacier and ice sheet flow rates, and monitor the planet’s forest and agricultural regions, which will help us better understand carbon exchange.
  • NISAR will generate high-resolution images using synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
  • SAR can penetrate clouds and collect data day and night, regardless of weather conditions.
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