IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


28th October, 2023 Science and Technology

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Picture Courtesy: India Narrative

Context: The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a joint endeavour between NASA (the United States' space agency) and ISRO (the Indian Space Research Organisation).


  • The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission involves launching a sophisticated radar satellite into orbit with the primary goal of studying changes in two crucial ecosystems: forests and wetlands.
  • NISAR will offer detailed insights into these ecosystems to understand how they are affected by climate change and human activities and how they contribute to the global carbon cycle.

Key objectives of the NISAR mission

Carbon Capture and Release

NISAR aims to monitor how forests and wetlands capture and release carbon. Forests store carbon in the wood of trees, while wetlands store it in their organic soil. Any disruption to these systems can lead to the release of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere.

By tracking land-cover changes, NISAR will provide valuable data on how these ecosystems impact the global carbon cycle.

Deforestation and Climate Change

Approximately 11% of net human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to forestry and land-use changes.

NISAR's data will improve our understanding of how the loss of forests worldwide influences the carbon cycle and contributes to global warming.

It will help in monitoring deforestation and forest degradation and encourage more sustainable logging practices.

Wetland Flooding and Carbon Release

Wetlands, despite covering a small percentage of the Earth's land surface, hold a significant amount of carbon in their soil.

When wetlands flood, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. When they dry out, they release carbon dioxide.

NISAR will monitor the flooding and drying of wetlands, helping researchers understand how these carbon-rich ecosystems react to climate change and human activities.

Global Coverage

NISAR's radar systems will scan nearly all of Earth's land and ice surfaces every 12 days, providing a comprehensive view of changes in forests and wetlands worldwide. This continuous monitoring will be invaluable for tracking both short-term and long-term trends.

Other Applications

In addition to ecosystem monitoring, NISAR will provide data on the motion of the Earth's surface, helping researchers understand geological phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and subsidence and uplift.

It will also track the movements and melting of glaciers and sea ice.


  • NISAR is set to launch in early 2024 and represents the first time that NASA and ISRO have collaborated on hardware development for an Earth-observing mission. The mission's data will be instrumental in advancing our understanding of the Earth's ecosystems and their role in climate change, as well as in various other fields of scientific research and environmental monitoring.

Must Read Articles:

NISAR: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/nisar


Q. What are the primary scientific objectives and potential applications of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, and how does its unique radar technology contribute to our understanding of Earth's processes and the environment?