VIDEO: New Satellite Passes Thermal Vacuum Testing

The NISAR satellite | Image by NASA

NASA announced Tuesday that it had completed “thermal vacuum” testing of the NISAR satellite, in conjunction with the Indian Space Research Organization.

The project is the first collaboration between the two space agencies to create a craft designed to observe the Earth. NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) entered a partnership to create and launch the NISAR satellite in September 2014.

NISAR is shorthand for the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mission. 

NASA provides the mission’s L-band SAR, and components such as a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a radar reflector antenna, a deployable boom, a solid-state recorder, and payload data subsystem while the ISRO provides NISAR’s S-band SAR electronics.

The U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru will provide the project’s launch vehicle, spacecraft bus, and other associated launch operations.  

The satellite is designed to scan the earth’s surface every 12 days, monitoring the earth’s natural movements and geology, such as landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes, the planet’s coldest regions, and more. Scientists claim that the craft will be able to observe the motion of these surfaces down to a fraction of an inch from orbit, according to NASA. 

Scientists placed the craft inside a vacuum chamber for a period of 21 days from October 19 to November 13. The satellite was subjected to extremely hot and cold temperatures like those that would be experienced in orbit. Scientists sought to test how the craft’s L-band and S-band radars would respond to the extreme conditions. 

“With thermal vacuum and compact antenna tests successfully done, NISAR will soon be fitted with its solar panels and its nearly 40-foot (12-meter) radar antenna reflector, which resembles a snare drum and will unfold in space at the end of a 30-foot (9-meter) boom extending from the spacecraft,” said NASA in a press release

The craft is expected to go through more tests before it is launched aboard one of the ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II rockets from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Scientists intend to launch the craft early next year. 

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