Plenary Talk 4

Dr Paul A Rosen

NASA’s Synthetic Aperture Radar Program in Earth Science

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) are developing the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, now planned for launch in 2023. The NISAR mission will map Earth’s surface every 12 days, on ascending and descending portions of the orbit, over all land and ice-covered surfaces. The mission’s primary objectives will be to study Earth land and ice deformation, and ecosystems, and support applications that benefit from systematic observations such as infrastructure monitoring, agriculture, soil moisture, and disaster response. The NISAR observatory carries two radars, one at L-band (24 cm wavelength) and the other at S-band (10 cm wavelength), each with a swath of over 240 km at fine resolution, using multiple polarizations depending on the observation target. To achieve these unprecedented capabilities, both radars use a reflector-feed system, whereby the feed aperture elements are individually sampled to allow a scan-on-receive (“SweepSAR”) capability at both L-band and S-band. The L-band and S-band electronics and feed apertures, provided by NASA and ISRO respectively, share a common 12-m diameter deployable reflector/boom system, provided by NASA.
NISAR is the trailblazing mission in NASA’s recently announced Earth System Observatory (ESO) program, a system of missions architected to provide synergistic measurements supporting open Earth system science. ESO comprises missions that deliver observations in the designated areas of Surface Biology and Geology, Mass Change, Aerosols, Cloud Convection and Precipitation, and Surface Deformation and Change (SDC). SDC is expected to provide continuity with NISAR. Presently, while NISAR is under development, NASA is conducting a five-year study of the SDC architecture. The study is examining a range of possible measurements and space architectures, as well as new technologies to enable new measurements, and factoring in the rapidly growing commercial capability in SAR systems and services. This talk will describe NISAR and SDC in the context of NASA’s Earth Science program.