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NASA to Add Special Heat Coating to NISAR Satellite

NASA
NISAR Satellite. Credit: NASA

Ibadan, 25 March 2024. – The NISAR (NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite – a joint NASA-Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Earth-observing mission – is nearly complete, and a launch readiness date will be determined at the end of April. The spacecraft will subsequently launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on India’s southeastern coast.

Before the launch, NASA will apply a special coating to the hardware components on the satellite’s 39-foot-diameter (12-meter) radar antenna reflector, which is among the Agency’s primary contributions to the mission. The addition of the special coating is a precautionary step to mitigate any temperature increases that could potentially affect the deployment of the reflector. Testing and analysis identified a potential for the reflector to experience higher-than-previously-anticipated temperatures in its stowed configuration in flight.

During science operations, the massive reflector will transmit and receive microwave signals to and from Earth’s surface, enabling NISAR to scan nearly all the planet’s land and ice surfaces twice every 12 days to collect science data. The special coating will consequently limit the temperature by reflecting more solar radiation off the reflector hardware. Due to the reflector’s size and complexity, the parties are shipping the satellite from the ISRO site in India to a specialized facility in California for the application of the coating.

NASA and ISRO will subsequently set a launch readiness date once they have verified the thermal performance of the coating. When the reflector returns to India, teams from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and ISRO will integrate it into the satellite. By combining two kinds of synthetic aperture radars, the NISAR satellite will offer measurements of Earth’s evolving surface, including changes in ice sheets and glaciers, wetlands and forests, and land around volcanoes and earthquake faults.

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