This is an image of equatorial Africa, centered on the equator at longitude 15degrees east. This image is a mosaic of almost 4,000 separate images obtained in 1996 by the L-band imaging radar onboard the Japanese Earth Resources Satellite. Using radar to penetrate the persistent clouds prevalent in tropical forests, the Japanese Earth Resources Satellite was able for the first time to image at high resolution this continental scale region during single flooding seasons. The area shown covers about 7.4 million square kilometers (2.8 million square miles) of land surface, spans more than 5,000 kilometers(3,100 miles) east and west and some 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) north and south. North is up in this image. At the full resolution of the mosaic (100 meters or 330 feet), this image is more than 500 megabytes in size, and was processed from imagery totaling more than 60 gigabytes.
Central Africa was imaged twice in 1996, once between January and March, which is the major low-flood season in the Congo Basin, and once between October and November, which is the major high-flood season in the Congo Basin. The red color corresponds to the data from the low-flood season, the green to the high-flood season, and the blue to the "texture" of the low-flood data. The forests appear green as a result, the flooded and palm forests, as well as urban areas, appear yellow, the ocean and lakes appear black, and savanna areas appear blue, black or green, depending on the savanna type, surface topography and other factors. The areas of the image that are black and white were mapped only between January and March 1996. In these areas, the black areas are savanna or open water, the gray are forests, and the white areas are flooded forests or urban areas. The Congo River dominates the middle of the image, where the nearby forests that are periodically flooded by the Congo and its tributaries stand out as yellow. The Nile River flows north from Lake Victoria in the middle right of the color portion of the mosaic.
This image is one of the products resulting from the Global Rain Forest Mapping project, a joint project between the National Space Development Agency of Japan, the Space Applications Institute of the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an international team of scientists. The goal of the Global Rain Forest Mapping mission is to map with the Japanese Earth Resources Satellite the world's tropical rain forests. The Japanese satellite was launched in 1992 by the National Space Development Agency of Japan and the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry, with support from the Remote Sensing Technology Center of Japan.