NASA Offers NISAR Satellite to Combat Brazil’s Deforestation

Images would assist the Brazilian Government achieve its Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon.

Mon 31 Jul 23


NASA administrator Bill Nelson has announced the upcoming deployment of a ground-breaking satellite that could greatly assist in monitoring and preventing deforestation in the Amazon. 

During his visit to the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) in Brazil, Nelson introduced the satellite named NISAR (NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar), a joint mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Slated for launch in India, NISAR will capture real-time images of what is happening beneath the forest canopy. 

‘This advanced technology will enable us to observe the undergrowth of the jungle, making it possible to detect if areas have been burned,’ Nelson stated at a news conference at the INPE. 

This ability to ‘see’ through the dense forest canopy, even under cloud cover, offers a significant breakthrough in forest monitoring technology.”

@DW Planet A reports that Brazil was once hugely successful at tackling deforestation there. Can the country do it again?
What is NISAR?

According to Interesting Engineering, NISAR, standing for NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, is a collaborative mission between the United States NASA and India’s ISRO. 

The project aims to develop a radar imaging satellite capable of providing an unprecedented detailed view of the Earth. 

Besides monitoring deforestation, the satellite will also assist in observing and understanding natural processes on Earth, including ecosystem disturbances, ice-sheet collapse, and natural hazards.

NASA claims the new satellite will support the SERVIR Amazonia project, which equips scientists and decision-makers across the Amazon area with Earth science data.

The project allows the experts to record environmental changes in near real time. 

The Indian Space Agency ISRO and NASA are working towards a January 2024 launch date. The idea was born in 2014 and is now close to attaining fusion. Footage courtesy of @WION.
The technology could be critical for Brazil’s Amazon Deforestation Plan.

In June 2023, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva unveiled the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Amazon.

The plan is part of the President’s pledge to eliminate illegal deforestation of the Amazon rainforest by 2030.

It stipulates increased use of satellite imagery to identify illegal logging, ranching, and mining operations.

With support from all eight South American countries connected to Amazon, the plan will become a regional commitment, with governments committed to signing the ‘Amazon’ pledge in mid-August 2023.

As it stands, Brazil relies on satellite imagery to watch over the Amazon and monitor its progression. 

Since 1999, Brazil has gathered data on agricultural operations in partnership with the Chinese Space Program (CSP).

Over the last 25 years, China has established a partnership with Brazil. Footage courtesy of @VideosfromSpace.

Still, clouds in the sky often make it difficult for satellites to capture clear and timely images. 

Nelson said the satellites NASA plans to place into orbit early next year will tackle this issue by adding an “extreme ability to understand what is happening” to the rainforest.”

The Amazon is responsible for 40% of the world’s deforestation.

Last month, Wood Central reported that Brazil was responsible for 43% of the world’s total deforestation in 2022.

In 2022, the primary loss in Brazil increased by 14%.

In Amazonas state, which is home to over half of Brazil’s intact forests, the rate of deforestation has almost doubled over the past three years.

Deforestation in the Amazonas, Brazil, over the last 20 years.

According to data from the Brazilian Government, deforestation in the Brazilian section of the Amazon dropped by 33.6% in the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term.

In a press conference at the INPE, Nelson, who previously flew aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle in 1986, said he distinctly noticed the rainforest’s destruction by the different colours he could witness from his spacecraft window.

Last Monday, Nelson met with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brasilia.

“I thanked the president for his continuous effort to save the Amazon rainforest,” he told reporters after the meeting.


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