- Original Caption Released with Image:
This is a radar image of the Mississippi River Delta where the river enters into the Gulf of Mexico along the coast of Louisiana. This multi-frequency image demonstrates the capability of the radar to distinguish different types of wetlands surfaces in river deltas. This image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on October 2, 1995. The image is centered on latitude 29.3 degrees North latitude and 89.28 degrees West longitude. The area shown is approximately 63 kilometers by 43 kilometers (39 miles by 26 miles). North is towards the upper right of the image.
As the river enters the Gulf of Mexico, it loses energy and dumps its load of sediment that it has carried on its journey through the mid-continent. This pile of sediment, or mud, accumulates over the years building up the delta front. As one part of the delta becomes clogged with sediment, the delta front will migrate in search of new areas to grow. The area shown on this image is the currently active delta front of the Mississippi. The migratory nature of the delta forms natural traps for oil and the numerous bright spots along the outside of the delta are drilling platforms. Most of the land in the image consists of mud flats and marsh lands. There is little human settlement in this area due to the instability of the sediments. The main shipping channel of the Mississippi River is the broad red stripe running northwest to southeast down the left side of the image. The bright spots within the channel are ships. The colors in the image are assigned to different frequencies and polarizations of the radar as follows: red is L-band vertically transmitted, vertically received; green is C-band vertically transmitted, vertically received; blue is X-band vertically transmitted, vertically received.
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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