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ISRO's Nisar mission faces launch delay as key component returns to NASA for thermal precautions

NASA-ISRO Nisar mission faces launch delay as key component undergoes coating process to manage potential thermal issues in space.

Updated on: Mar 24 2024, 12:49 IST
NASA-ISRO mission NISAR faces launch delay as a vital component undergoes a special coating process for temperature control. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In a setback for the highly anticipated NISAR (NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) mission, the joint endeavour between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has hit a snag, pushing back its launch schedule with the target now shifted to late April.

Scheduled for liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre along India's southeastern coastline, the Earth-observing satellite is in its final stages of preparation.

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A pivotal aspect of the mission's readiness involves applying a specialized coating to the satellite's 39-foot-diameter (12-meter) radar antenna reflector. This component, a crucial contribution from NASA, necessitates the coating to safeguard against potential temperature fluctuations that could impede its functionality in space.

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Recent assessments conducted by ISRO have flagged potential temperature concerns during the reflector's stowage phase, prompting the need for this additional precaution.

International Collaboration at Work

The overarching goal of the Nisar mission is to transform our comprehension of Earth's surface alterations, employing microwave signals to survey nearly all terrestrial and glacial regions globally at 12-day intervals. This frequent, high-resolution monitoring promises invaluable insights into phenomena like ice sheet movements, forest dynamics, and natural calamities such as earthquakes and volcanic activities.

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To address the thermal challenges, the special coating, engineered to mitigate solar radiation effects and limit temperature escalation, is currently being administered at a specialized facility in California. This intricate process involves transporting the reflector from ISRO's assembly site in India, underscoring the international collaboration integral to this mission's execution.

Once the coating's efficacy in managing thermal conditions is validated, the reflector will be repatriated to India for integration onto the satellite, marking a crucial milestone preceding the anticipated launch.

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Nisar signifies the first hardware collaboration between NASA and ISRO in the realm of Earth observation missions. By melding L-band and S-band synthetic aperture radars, Nisar pledges unparalleled insights into the dynamic nature of Earth's surfaces, spanning from glacier monitoring to wetland and forest surveillance, and comprehensive observation of land adjacent to pivotal geological landmarks.

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First Published Date: 24 Mar, 12:48 IST