NASA & ISRO collaborate to co-develop the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite worth $1.5 billion

It was a time in 1992 when the under President George Bush rejected sanctions on Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and put a stop to Russia from sharing cryogenic engine technology to prevent India from making missiles. And now twenty-five years later, US space agency NASA & ISRO collaborate to co-develop the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite. The project costs over $1.5 billion.

The launch vehicle is GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle), which will place the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite into orbit in 2021. The notable fact that this is the same rocket for whose cryogenic engine the US put sanctions on India.

NASA & ISRO collaborate
Artist concept of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite in orbit. (Image credit – Wikipedia)

NASA & ISRO collaborate – the journey:

Nasa became interested in ISRO when the Indian Space Agency had launched country’s first indigenous radar imaging satellite (Risat-1) in April 2012.

After two years of negotiations, the formal agreement for NISAR satellite took place when Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a declaration with former US President Barack Obama during his visit to the US in 2014. The objective behind this collaboration was to use the satellite for the “benefit of humanity.” The data from this satellite will be available for all.

NASA & ISRO collaborate -The terms of the  agreement:

Under the terms of the agreement, NASA will provide the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem. ISRO will provide the satellite bus, an S-band synthetic aperture radar, the launch vehicle and associated launch services.

The purpose of NISAR (satellite):

ISRO & NASA collaborate for building the 2,200 kg NISAR satellite. This will provide a never seen view of the Earth using advanced radar imaging. The satellite is being designed to observe and take measurements of our planet’s ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquake, volcanoes, tsunami, landslides etc.

The process of making NISAR is in testing mode. The Ahmedabad-based Space Application Centre (SAC) is flight-testing the mini version over the city sky. The ‘mini radar’ developed by SAC has been fixed on a Beechcraft Super King B 200 owned by ISRO. It is used for flight testing primarily to understand weather and geographical conditions.

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