Washington: NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is set to travel to India and the UAE starting Monday to engage in a series of discussions with significant government authorities.
During his visit, Nelson will hold meetings with space officials in both nations, aiming to enhance bilateral collaboration in various domains related to innovation and research. The focus areas include human exploration and Earth science, as highlighted by the NASA release.
Nelson’s trip to India will honor a commitment made under the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology launched by President Joe Biden.
During the visit to India, Nelson will tour various sites, including the facilities in Bengaluru, where the NISAR spacecraft, a collaborative Earth-observing mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is undergoing testing and integration for its scheduled launch in 2024.
NISAR, short for NASA ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, represents the first joint satellite venture between NASA and ISRO. Functioning as a pioneering Earth-observing instrument within the Earth System Observatory, NISAR is engineered to track changes in Earth’s ecosystems, dynamic surfaces, and ice masses. It provides essential information on biomass, natural hazards, sea level rise, and groundwater, supplying valuable insights for climate change efforts, hazard mitigation, agriculture, and various other applications.
Laurie Leshin, the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at NASA, recently told ANI that scientists from both space agencies, ISRO and NASA, are working in close collaboration on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission. This collaboration aims to maximize the utilization of the data transmitted from the spacecraft.
“We are so excited to be working between NASA and ISRO on NISAR, which is a radar machine to looks at the surface of the earth and how it is changing. In India, they are interested in understanding how the mangrove environment at the coasts is changing. We will understand how ice sheets are changing and how earthquakes and volcanoes are happening all over the world…There are many different aspects to understanding our earth better,” Leshin told ANI in Bengaluru earlier this month.
NISAR is a significant joint venture between NASA and ISRO, representing their first collaboration on hardware development for an Earth-observing mission.
The satellite, roughly the size of an SUV and featuring gold-colored thermal blanketing, encompasses two radar systems within its cylindrical instrument payload.
During his time in the UAE, Nelson will participate in the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, making history as the first NASA administrator to attend the conference.
Moreover, students in both countries will have the opportunity to interact with Nelson during his visit, engaging in discussions about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, as well as their roles as members of the Artemis Generation.