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|This radar image is of an area thought to contain the ruins of the ancient settlement of Niya. It is located in the southwestern corner of the Taklamakan Desert in China's Sinjiang Province. This oasis was part of the famous Silk Road, an ancient trade route from one of China's earliest capitols, Xian, to the West. |
The image shows a white linear feature trending diagonally from the upper left to the lower right. Scientists believe this newly discovered feature is a man-made canal which presumably diverted river waters toward the settlement of Niya for irrigation purposes.
The image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on its 106th orbit on April 16, 1994, and is centered at 37.78 degrees north latitude and 82.41 degrees east longitude. The false-color radar image was created by displaying the C-band (horizontally transmitted and received) return in red, the L-band (horizontally transmitted and received) return in green, and the L-band (horizontally transmitted and vertically received) return in blue. Areas in mottled white and purple are low-lying floodplains of the Niya River. Dark green and black areas between river courses are higher ridges or dunes confining the water flow.
Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C and X-band 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: the 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 Raumfahrtange-legenheiten (DARA), and the Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI), with the Deutsche Forschungsanstaltfuer Luft und Raumfahrt e.v.(DLR), the major partner in science, operations and data processing of X-SAR.
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