NASA, ISRO Complete Payload Integration of NISAR Mission, to Be Shipped to India After Testing

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Top NASA officials on Wednesday said the payload integration of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission has been completed in the US and it is expected to be shipped to India after testing for integration with the satellite and eventually with the launch vehicle. NISAR is a joint earth-observation mission between ISRO and the US space agency NASA for global observations over all land mass, 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 modes of operation to observe minor changes in land, vegetation and cryosphere.

A team of US space agency officials under the leadership of Dr Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate, are here, and have held meetings with officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

The trip would mostly focus on NISAR, “the biggest-ever collaboration” of NASA and ISRO, they have said.

“I have come from a meeting with the Scientific Secretary of ISRO and later tonight I have a meeting with Chairman of ISRO. I’m very excited for this meeting,” Zurbuchen said at an event at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) today.

Terming NISAR as a complex mission, he said the progress has been made on NISAR after COVID-induced delays.

NASA’s Earth Science Division Director Karen M St. Germain said NISAR is a dual SAR, for which the US is building L-band SAR and ISRO is building S-band.

Stating that this would be a mission with several unique capabilities and of several firsts, she said, “We have now got the payloads integrated at our facility at JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab), we are going into testing. First, the launch integration tests and then the functional tests, and then the whole thing will be shifted back here to ISRO for integration on the satellite and for integration on the launch vehicle, and then launch.”

Further noting that NASA and ISRO have worked together on an air-borne testbed for testing the radars, she said, “…what is really exciting is the science, this mission is going to enable us to do for the first time, and in order to facilitate that science, we have built this air-borne simulator together.” NASA and Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO signed a partnership on September 30, 2014, to collaborate on and launch NISAR.


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