Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started work on a satellite in collaboration with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). According to several reports, the work on building components of the satellite has started. According to space agencies, the satellite will use advanced radar imaging which will provide an unprecedented, detailed view of the Earth. The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) has been designed for observation and taking measurements of some of the most complex processes of our planet, which includes disturbances in our ecosystem, collapsing ice sheets, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides. General Larry D James, deputy director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA, at an event organised by the US Consulate General in Chennai on June 20 said, “We started putting hardware together and working with Isro on various components that it is building. L-band will be shipped here for integration. We have also started building all those components that will make the spacecraft.” He confirmed that the satellite mission was on course a 2021 launch.
In the year 2014, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K Radhakrishnan, chairman of ISRO, had signed two documents to launch a joint satellite mission. They had signed a charter which established a NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group to investigate enhanced cooperation between the two countries in Mars exploration. On the occasion, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had said, “The signing of these two documents reflects the strong commitment NASA and ISRO have to advancing science and improving life on Earth.”
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The Space agencies of India and the US have been jointly working on the development of Dual Frequency (L and S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite named as NISAR. While NASA will develop the L-band SAR, ISRO will develop S-band SAR. These band microwave data obtained from NISAR will be useful for a range of applications, including natural resources mapping and monitoring, estimating agricultural biomass over full duration of crop cycle, assessing soil moisture, monitoring of floods and oil slicks, coastal erosion, coastline changes and variation of winds in coastal waters, assessment of mangroves, surface deformation studies, ice sheet collapses and dynamics, NASA said in a blog post.
The organisation informed that the data obtained from NISAR mission is not meant for building climate resilience. However, the data acquired from this mission will be useful in developing certain applications, which include: (i) Identifying crevasses in the glaciers hidden by fresh snow, where human movement takes place, (ii) Identifying the snowpack parameters as an input in Avalanche forecasts, (iii) Studying Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) hazards, (iv) Identifying inundated area due to floods/cyclones.
On June 19, NASA had released a mission catalogue introducing 219 new planet candidates, out of which are 10 were as big as Earth and found to be orbiting in their star’s habitable zone. With the latest release, NASA has detected a total of 4,034 planet candidates, of which 2,335 have been verified as exoplanets. Also, of roughly 50 near-Earth-size habitable zone candidates detected, over 30 have been verified.