US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will, for the first time, collaborate to jointly launch a satellite to study climate change with a special focus on earthquake and its patterns.
The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), a satellite is designed to observe and take measurements of some of the planet's most complex processes of the Earth, which include earthquakes and their patterns, volcanoes, landslides, melting ice sheets, tsunami and ecosystem disturbances.
Collaboration on the climate change satellite programme marks the first joint exercise by the two agencies on a major project and the two agencies have formed a working group that will continue to work jointly on other future projects as well, including Mars mission.
According to the two space agencies, developing of the NISAR satellite will involve building of payload consisting of L- and S- bands. NASA will provide the L- band components while ISRO will provide S- band components. The payload will be integrated at NASA and then flown back to Bangalore where it will be integrated with the satellite, which is being built and will be launched by Isro.
NISAR satellite will be launched from India in either in 2020 or 2021 depending on how fast the teams working on the programme are able to complete their work. Though NASA administrator Charles Frank Bolden said they are looking to launch the satellite by 2020-21, Isro chief AS Kiran Kumar said they are looking to advance the launch
The ISRO-NASA satellite won't be the first satellite geared towards observing the Earth's seismic activities. There are approximately130 satellites dedicated to observing Earth's activities, except that there is no coordination in the various satellite-based Earth studies. As such, NISAR is expected to mark a significant milestone in better understanding Earth activities such as sealevel changes, landslides monitoring and biomass estimate.
The collaboration between ISRO and NASA to boost the study of climate change follows the recent unprecedented rise in global temperatures leading scientists to enter 2015 as the hottest year on record going back to 1890s.
The menace of climate change threatens life on Earth with accelerated ice melting, raising risks of flooding in coastal settlement and threatening aquatic life.
NISAR will give primary data of surface deformation and the frequency of the measurement is very significantly different from what is available now and that's what is being looked at globally as a new input for enabling a large number of applications to be brought about, Kumar said.
It is not clear how long NISAR will remain deployed, but it is expected to stay afloat long enough to allow for taking of measurements that can help with spotting differences in Earth's seismic activities and other patterns.
''The activities are going on in full swing. Both the governments have cleared the basic mission. We are looking at a possible launch with 2021. We are trying to advance the launch and we are working towards it. As far as we are concerned the usage of this got many significant usages for our program,'' Kumar said.