The joint India-US mission focused on studying climate change using the world’s most expensive Earth imaging satellite is nearing completion, with the launch expected in the first quarter of 2024, as per a senior NASA official. Laurie Leshin, Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, emphasized the multifaceted role of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), not only in climate change research but also in predicting hazards like earthquakes and tsunamis. Leshin expressed great respect for India’s space program, particularly in the aftermath of the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission.
NISAR, a collaborative effort between ISRO and NASA, is a low earth orbit observatory designed to map the entire Earth within 12 days. It aims to provide consistent data for understanding changes in ecosystems, ice mass, vegetation, sea level rise, groundwater levels, and various natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and landslides.
Leshin underscored the significance of NISAR’s impact on people’s lives, emphasizing its role in enhancing global understanding and awareness of climate change-related phenomena, such as melting ice sheets, changing forests, earthquakes, and volcanoes.
The collaboration between NASA and ISRO on NISAR was described by Leshin as the most substantial technological partnership between the two nations, representing a historic achievement in the history of space exploration cooperation. She commended the close collaboration between engineers from both organizations, highlighting the success of the joint effort.
In reflecting on the collaboration, Leshin emphasized the value of diverse approaches to success in space endeavors, noting that both NASA and ISRO have mutually learned from each other, fostering innovation through the exchange of ideas.
Expressing admiration for India’s space program, Leshin noted that the respect for it has grown even further after the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission. The launch of NISAR is scheduled for the first quarter of 2024, with both space agencies underscoring their readiness and conducting thorough testing to ensure the spacecraft’s functionality in the space environment.