This image of Ancharn Kuy, Cambodia, was taken by NASA's Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR). The image depicts an area northwest of Angkor Wat. The radar has highlighted a number of circular village mounds in this region, many of which have a circular pattern of rice fields surrounding the slightly elevated site. Most of them have evidence of what seems to be pre-Angkor occupation, such as stone tools and potsherds. Most of them also have a group of five spirit posts, a pattern not found in other parts of Cambodia. The shape of the mound, the location in the midst of a ring of rice fields, the stone tools and the current practice of spirit veneration have revealed themselves through a unique "marriage" of radar imaging, archaeological investigation, and anthropology.
Ancharn Kuy is a small village adjacent to the road, with just this combination of features. The region gets slowly higher in elevation, something seen in the shift of color from yellow to blue as you move to the top of the image.
The small dark rectangles are typical of the smaller water control devices employed in this area. While many of these in the center of Angkor are linked to temples of the 9th to 14th Century A.D., we cannot be sure of the construction date of these small village tanks. They may pre-date the temple complex, or they may have just been dug ten years ago!
The image dimensions are approximately 4.75 by 4.3 kilometers (3 by 2.7 miles) with a pixel spacing of 5 meters (16.4 feet). North is at top. Image brightness is from the C-band (5.6 centimeters, or 2.2 inches) wavelength radar backscatter, which is a measure of how much energy the surface reflects back toward the radar. Color is used to represent elevation contours. One cycle of color; that is going from blue to red to yellow to green and back to blue again; corresponds to 10 meters (32.8 feet) of elevation change.
AIRSAR flies aboard a NASA DC-8 based at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. In the TOPSAR mode, AIRSAR collects radar interferometry data from two spatially separated antennas (2.6 meters, or 8.5 feet). Information from the two antennas is used to form radar backscatter imagery and to generate highly accurate elevation data. Built, operated and managed by JPL, AIRSAR is part of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise program. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.