ISRO-NASA to jointly launch satellite to study earthquakes

The Indian space agency ISRO and US space agency NASA will join hands for the first time to launch a satellite that will help study earthquake and its patterns.

ISRO-NASA to jointly launch satellite to study earthquakes

New Delhi: The Indian space agency ISRO and US space agency NASA will join hands for the first time to launch a satellite that will help study earthquake and its patterns.

The satellite is called NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR and 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.

India and US are also collaborating in a major way in the Mars Mission project.

While NASA Administrator Charles Frank Bolden said they are planning to launch the satellite by 2020-21, but ISRO AS Kiran Kumar said they are looking to prepone the launch.

"The US is providing L-Band. It will help us look at crustal deformation. We are looking for hints at earthquake detection. We cannot predict earthquake but we can advise people where it has occurred. We are hoping to launch it by 2020-21," Bolden told reporters here.

To discuss applications of remote sensing technologies for disaster mitigation and bettering global climate change monitoring, the heads and representatives of several space agencies were assembled in the national capital.

The project will not only help in understanding the seismic activity but also give inputs for monitoring agricultural activities in India, says ISRO AS Kiran Kumar.

"The activity involves building a payload with L- and S- bands synthetic aperture radar. It's a new technology instrument. While NASA provides the L-Band component of the electronics plus the antenna, which is a huge one. ISRO will provide the S-Band and the payload will be integrated at NASA and then the payload comes back at Bangalore. It gets integrated on the satellite, which is being built and will be launched by ISRO.

"So, currently 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 usage for our programme," Kumar said.

"You can measure accurately the variations in surface

topography, accuracy of millimeters. So, it's not earthquake prediction that is possible and making measurements of locations where large deformation are consistent, observation of changes in surface measures which will lead to stress levels being built up at certain locations which could help in understanding the behaviour of understanding earthquake and its phenomena. The objective is to make systematic study in timely manner," Kumar said.

He further said that it will give primary data of surface deformation and the frequency of the measurement is very significantly different from what is available now and thats what is being looked at globally as a new input for enabling a large number of applications to be brought about.

"We are very much excited about it because for the first time two of our agencies are working together on such a big scale," the ISRO chief said, adding that both the space agencies have formed a working group and they would meet periodically.

"They look at the result available from Mars Orbiter Mission and MAVEN. They also look at if there could be some coordinated measurements which could be planned.

"In future, we are also looking at what we could so with NASA in our future MARS missions. We are also looking at opportunities for some of our payloads which can be carried on their (NASA's) programmes. This is a continuous dialouge on how we can take forward our current engagements on Mars programme," Kumar said.  

(With PTI inputs)