- Original Caption Released with Image:
This is a C-band, VV polarization radar image of the Namib desert in southern Namibia, near the coast of South West Africa. The image is centered at about 25 degrees South latitude, 15.5 degrees East longitude. This image was one of the first acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) when it was taken on orbit 4 from the shuttle Endeavour on April 9, 1994. The area shown is approximately 78 kilometers by 20 kilometers. The dominant features in the image are complex sand dune patterns formed by the prevailing winds in this part of the Namib desert.
The Namib desert is an extremely dry area formed largely because of the influence of the cold Benguela ocean current that flows northward along the coast of Namibia. The bright areas at the bottom of the image are exposed outcrops of Precambrian rocks. This extremely barren area is a region rich in diamonds that through the centuries have washed down from the mountains. The town of Luderitz is located just to the south of the area shown.
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 Aumfahrtangelegenheiten (DARA), and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), with the Deutsche Forschungsanstaltfuer Luft und Raumfahrt e.v. (DLR), he major partner in science, operations and data processing of X-SAR.
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