- Original Caption Released with Image:
This is an X-band seasonal image of the central part of Lozere Departement situated south of the Massif Central in France. The image is 10 kilometers by 25 kilometers (6 miles by 15.5 miles) and is centered at approximately 44.3 degrees north latitude and 3 degrees east longitude. This image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on April 15, 1994 and on October 6, 1994. The image channels have the following color assignments: red was acquired in April; green was acquired in October; and blue is the ratio of the two data sets combined. Seasonal differences in the vegetation are visible in pink, which are heaths growing in the spring.
This research area features two large limestone plateaus cut by the famous Gorges du Tarn, standing in parallel with the granite mountain range known as the Cevennes Mountains nearby. Land-use consists mainly of grasslands, heaths and forests. Forest types seen in the images are Austrian pines,Scots pines, spruce, fir and beech trees. Most forests were planted at the end of the 19th century through a national reforestation program aimed at reducing the strong erosion risks in these areas. This program was so successful that today the forests are exploited for forest pulpwood and sawlogs, but also remain protected as conservation regions. The study being performed in this area will assess the potential of spaceborne radar remote sensing for temperate forest type mapping and forest resource monitoring. The combination of X-band SAR data with lower frequency data (such as the SIR-C L-band data) allows scientists to distinguish forest tree species and biomass, or areas of ground vegetation.
The lessons learned from the radar images of these controlled forest regions can be applied to larger areas and naturally grown forests to help ecologists protect and maintain them. The SIR-C/X-SAR images will be investigated by scientists from the remote sensing laboratory Cemagref in Montpellier and the National Forestry Board in Mende, France.
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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