- Original Caption Released with Image:
This is an X-band seasonal image of the Altona test site in Manitoba, Canada, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Winnipeg. The image is centered at approximately 49 degrees north latitude and 97.5 degrees west longitude.
This 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 April 11, 1994, during the first flight of the radar system, and on October 2, 1994, during the second flight of SIR-C/X-SAR. The image channels have the following color assignments: red represents data acquired on April 11, 1994; green represents data acquired on October 2, 1994; blue represents the ratio of the two data sets. The test site is located in the Red River Basin and is characterized by rich farmland where a variety of crops are grown, including wheat, barley, canola, corn, sunflowers and sugar beets. This SIR-C/X-SAR research site is applying radar remote sensing to study the characteristics of vegetation and soil moisture.
The seasonal comparison between the April and October 1994 data show the dramatic differences between surface conditions on the two dates. At the time of the April acquisition, almost all agricultural fields were bare and soil moisture levels were high. In October, however, soils were drier and while most crops had been harvested, some standing vegetation was still present. The areas which are cyan in color are dark in April and bright in October. These represent fields of standing biomass (amount of vegetation in a specified area) and the differences in brightness within these cyan fields represent differences in vegetation type. The very bright fields in October represent standing broadleaf crops such as corn, which had not yet been harvested. Other standing vegetation which has less biomass, such as hay and grain fields, are less bright. The magenta indicates bare soil surfaces which were wetter (brighter) in April than in October. The variations in brightness of the magenta indicate differences in the degree of soil moisture change and differences in surface roughness. This seasonal composite demonstrates the sensitivity of radar to changes in agricultural surface conditions such as soil moisture, tillage, cropping and harvesting.
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: 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), with the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fuer Luft und Raumfahrt e.V.(DLR), the major partner in science, operations and data processing of X-SAR.
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