NASA, ISRO jointly working on project NISAR

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are jointly working on the development of Dual Frequency (L and S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite.

A dedicated U.S. and Indian InSAR mission, in partnership with ISRO, optimized for studying hazards and global environmental change.

Data acquired from this mission will be useful in taking measures to minimise loss of human lives. Read on to know how.

The history of space cooperation between India and the Unites States of America goes back to 1963 when India launched its first U.S-manufactured sounding rocket. Further, in 2008, Chandrayaan I — India’s first mission to the moon carried scientific instruments built by international partners, including two by NASA.

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In a latest collaborative project, ISRO and NASA are jointly working on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission to co-develop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar satellite. This earth monitoring satellite is scheduled to be launched in 2021.


In a meeting in Toronto, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K.Radhakrishnan, Chairman ISRO, signed two documents to launch the NASA-ISRO satellite mission. The purpose of the mission is to observe Earth and establish a pathway for future joint missions for Mars exploration, according to NASA.

More about NISAR mission

  • NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a dual frequency (L and S Band) Radar Imaging Satellite. It is the first big collaboration between NASA and ISRO, NDTV reported
  • Likely to cost the two countries over USD 1.5 billion, this satellite is also likely be the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite
  • In this joint mission, NASA will be responsible for design and development of L-band SAR, 12m unfurlable antenna, GPS system and data recorder. ISRO will be responsible for design and development of S-band SAR, Spacecraft Bus, data transmission system, Spacecraft integration and testing, launch using GSLV and on-orbit operations
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  • The satellite will take weekly snapshots of Earth — using the two radars — that will provide time lapse images of the motion of tectonic plates, ice sheets and changes in vegetation over land in agriculture and forests
  • 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 like identifying crevasses in the glaciers hidden by fresh snow, where human movement takes place, identifying the snowpack parameters as an input in Avalanche forecasts, studying Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) hazards or identifying inundated area due to floods/cyclones
  • These applications could help in taking measures to minimise loss of human lives

Using advanced radar imaging that will provide an unprecedented, detailed view of Earth, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR, satellite is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.

Data collected from NISAR will reveal information about the evolution and state of Earth’s crust, help scientists better understand our planet’s processes and changing climate, and aid future resource and hazard management. The mission is a partnership between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization.

Scientific Instrument(s)

– L-band (24-centimeter wavelength) Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar
– S-band (12-centimeter wavelength) Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

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