New Delhi, June 26: Space scientists in India and America are on tenterhooks as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump meet for the first bilateral in Washington today. At stake is the world’s most expensive Earth-imaging satellite till date being jointly made by the NASA and the ISRO.

The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission is a joint project between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch a dual frequency synthetic aperture radar satellite. This satellite is mainly used to observe and understand natural processes of the Earth. NISAR will be launched in 2021 but the work has started on it at Pasadena, a suburb of Los Angeles.

Paul A Rosen, one of the satellite’s project scientist said, “Once it is in orbit, the $1.5 billion satellite is expected to provide data that lies at the heart of climate change – “motion of the tectonic plates, of the ice sheets, of the changes in vegetation over land in agriculture and forests.”

Climate change, however, is one of the subjects that divide India and America. Mr Trump calls climate change a hoax created by China by adhering to his views that “the concept of global warming was created by the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive”.

On the other hand, Narendra Modi has penned a pictorial book — Convenient Action: Continuity for Change — that compiles his actions and beliefs on climate change.

The scientists, Professor Rosen said, are looking at time variability of the earth over the life of the mission to understand how disasters evolve, how earthquakes occur, how volcanoes occur, how the ice sheets are changing and affecting sea level rise, and how forest fires and changes in the forest cover affect the atmosphere.

He also added saying “It is very relevant to what society cares about which is changes in our climate, changes in our environment and how it affects society.”

(With inputs from PTI)