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This color composite C-band and L-band image of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) flying on space shuttle Endeavour. The city of Hilo can be seen at the top. The image shows the different types of lava flows around the crater Pu'u O'o. Ash deposits which erupted in 1790 from the summit of Kilauea volcano show up as dark in this image, and fine details associated with lava flows which erupted in 1919 and 1974 can be seen to the south of the summit in an area called the Ka'u Desert. In addition, the other historic lava flows created in 1881 and 1984 from Mauna Loa volcano (out of view to the left of this image) can be easily seen despite the fact that the surrounding area is covered by forest. Such information will be used to map the extent of such flows, which can pose a hazard to the subdivisions of Hilo. Highway 11 is the linear feature running from Hilo to the Kilauea volcano. The Kilauea volcano has been almost continuously active for more than the last 11 years. Field teams that were on the ground specifically to support these radar observations report that there was vigorous surface activity about 400 meters (one-quarter mile) inland from the coast. A moving lava flow about 200 meters (660 feet) in length was observed at the time of the shuttle overflight, raising the possibility that subsequent images taken during this mission will show changes in the landscape. This image is centered at 19.2 degrees north latitude and 155.2 degrees west longitude.
Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth. The radars illuminate Earth with microwaves allowing detailed observations at any time, regardless of weather or sunlight conditions. SIR-C/X-SAR uses three microwave wavelengths: L-band (24 cm), C-band (6 cm) and X-band (3 cm). The multi-frequency data will be used by the international scientific community to better understand the global environment and how it is changing. The SIR-C/X-SAR data, complemented by aircraft and ground studies, will give scientists clearer insights into those environmental changes which are caused by nature and those changes which are induced by human activity.
SIR-C was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. X-SAR was developed by the Dornier and Alenia Spazio companies for the German space agency, Deutsche Agentur fuer Raumfahrtangelegenheiten (DARA), and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI).
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