NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar or NISAR, an Earth science satellite being jointly built by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), got a send-off ceremony in California before it ships out to its last stop -- India.
ISRO Chairman S Somanath, JPL Director Laurie Leshin, and dignitaries from NASA headquarters including Bhavya Lal, NASA's associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy were present at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for the send-off.
"Today we come one step closer to fulfilling the immense scientific potential NASA and ISRO envisioned for NISAR when we joined forces more than eight years ago," Somanath said.
"This mission will be a powerful demonstration of the capability of radar as a science tool and help us study Earth's dynamic land and ice surfaces in greater detail than ever before," he added.
NISAR mission, planned to launch in 2024, is expected to systematically map Earth, using two different radar frequencies to monitor resources such as water, forests and agriculture.
The mission will provide important Earth science data related to ecosystems, Earth's surface, natural hazards, sea level rise and the cryosphere,
"This marks an important milestone in our shared journey to better understand planet Earth and our changing climate," Leshin said.
"NISAR will provide critical information on Earth's crust, ice sheets, and ecosystems. By delivering measurements at unprecedented precision, NISAR's promise is a new understanding and a positive impact in communities. Our collaboration with ISRO exemplifies what's possible when we tackle complex challenges together," added Leshin.
Outside the facility, in front of a scale model of the NISAR satellite, NASA's NISAR Project Manager Phil Barela and ISRO's NISAR Project Director CV Shrikant ceremonially broke fresh coconuts.
The tradition, common in India, often marks auspicious occasions and signifies hope for a smooth road ahead. Leshin also presented the ISRO delegation with a jar of JPL lucky peanuts.
Dignitaries from the US and Indian space agencies witnessed NISAR's science payload in a Jet Propulsion Laboratory clean room.
Somanath, Deputy Chief of Mission, Supriya Ranganathan, Counsellor Space, Krunal Joshi and NASA officials toured the High Bay 2 clean room, where they saw engineers and technicians putting the science instrument payload through final electrical testing.
Since early 2021, engineers and technicians at JPL have been integrating and testing NISAR's two radar systems - the L-band SAR provided by JPL and the S-band SAR built by ISRO.
Later this month, they will move the SUV-size payload into a special cargo container for a 9,000-mile (14,000-kilometer) flight to India's U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru. There it will be merged with the spacecraft bus in preparation for a 2024 launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh state.
NISAR will gather radar data with a drum-shaped reflector antenna almost 40 feet (12 meters) in diameter. It will use a signal-processing technique called interferometric synthetic aperture radar, or InSAR, to observe changes in Earth's land and ice surfaces down to fractions of an inch. (ANI)