Tuesday, April 12, 2016

India, NASA Push To Advance Launch Of Earthquake Satellite

NEW DELHI — India’s space agency is working with NASA to advance the launch of a satellite to monitor climate change and earthquake patterns.
The NASA-Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Synthetic Aperture Radar, or Nisar, is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the Earth’s most complex processes, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and landslides.
The satellite was expected to be launched in 2021, but ISRO scientists are now looking to advance the launch, having received clearances from both the U.S. and Indian governments.
“At the moment, activities are at full pace,” ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar says. “But we are trying to advance the launch and we are working toward it.”
NASA will be responsible for the design and development of the spacecraft’s 12-meter L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) antenna, GPS system and data recorder. ISRO will be taking care of the design and development of the mission’s S-band SAR, spacecraft bus and data transmission system, while also handling spacecraft integration and testing, launch via Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, and on-orbit operations.
The radar payload will be integrated at NASA and then brought to Bengaluru in south India for integration with the satellite.
“The L-band will help us look at crustal deformation,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says. “We are looking for hints at earthquake detection. We cannot predict [an] earthquake but we can advise people where it has occurred.”
“One can measure accurately the variations in surface topography [to an] accuracy of millimeters,” Kumar adds.
The Nisar mission will explore new applications in natural resources mapping and monitoring, estimating agricultural biomass over the full duration of a crop cycle, assessing soil moisture, monitoring of floods and oil slicks, coastal erosion, coastline changes and variation of winds in coastal waters. It will also assess mangroves and surface deformation due to seismic activities.
Kumar says the mission might prove to be a landmark step in Indo-U.S. space cooperation. “We are excited about this,” he says. “It is for the first time that the two agencies are working on such a big scale.”

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