The earth observation satellite known as “NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar” (NISAR) will assist researchers in examining how modifications to Earth’s forest and wetland ecosystems are impacting the global carbon cycle and driving climate change.
The satellite is the result of an agreement between Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the US space agency NASA.
According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the NISAR radar satellite mission, scheduled to launch in early 2024, will provide comprehensive insights into two ecosystem types: wetlands and forests. These ecosystems are essential for naturally regulating the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that are causing global climate change.
It said that NISAR’s advanced radar systems would scan almost the whole surface of Earth twice every twelve days while in orbit. “The data it collects will help researchers understand two key functions of both ecosystem types: the capture and the release of carbon.”
JPL noted that whereas wetlands store carbon in their layers of organic soil, forests store it in the wood of their trees. Any disturbance, no matter how little or large, of either system might hasten the release of methane and carbon dioxide into the sky.
It said that monitoring these changes in land cover globally would assist researchers in examining the effects on the carbon cycle, which is the mechanism by which carbon is exchanged between the atmosphere, land, ocean, and living organisms.
NASA’s JPL in Southern California is home to NISAR project scientist Paul Rosen. “The radar technology on NISAR will allow us to get a sweeping perspective of the planet in space and time,” Rosen said.
“It can give us a really reliable view of exactly how Earth’s land and ice are changing,” he said.
With NISAR, NASA and ISRO are working together on an equal footing and collaborating on hardware development for the first time for an Earth-observing mission.
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena oversees JPL, which is in charge of the US portion of the project and provides the L-band SAR for the mission.
In addition, NASA is supplying GPS receivers, a solid-state recorder, a radar reflector antenna, a deployable boom, a high-rate communication subsystem for scientific data, and a payload data subsystem.
Spacecraft bus, S-band SAR electronics, launch vehicle, related launch services, and satellite mission operations are provided by ISRO’s U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, which is spearheading the ISRO portion of the project.