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The reflector dish, a key component of the NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) mission, has taken an unexpected journey. Teams identified potential overheating issues with the 12-meter reflector, prompting its return to the United States for a special coating application.

The large, gold-plated mesh reflector, provided by NASA, is designed to focus radar signals for the mission. However, recent tests conducted by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) indicated the reflector might experience higher-than-expected temperatures during flight. To prevent potential deployment failure due to heat, a special coating is being applied to reflect solar radiation and keep temperatures under control.

A NASA-owned C-130 cargo aircraft facilitated the reflector’s transport from Bangalore, India, back to the United States for this critical modification. Once the coating is applied at a specialized JPL facility in California, the reflector will resume its journey and be integrated back into the NISAR spacecraft.

This unforeseen step ensures the mission’s success by safeguarding the vital role of the reflector in collecting Earth observation data.