This false-color, oblique perspective image of the Slumgullion landslide in southwestern Colorado depicting its surface motion was created by data acquired by NASA's airborne Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) between two airplane flights in August 2011. The colors indicate the amount of surface motion during the seven-day interval between the two flights. The yellow areas within the slide moved about 3.5 inches, or 9 centimeters, during those seven days. The red outline in the image is the active part of the landslide as mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey. The pink, purple and yellow shades show the most rapidly moving part of the landslide.
A science team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., used the JPL-developed UAVSAR to measure surface deformation from the landslide. The radar flies at an altitude of 41,000 feet (12.5 kilometers) on a Gulfstream-III aircraft from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
The team used a technique that detects minute changes in the distance between the aircraft and the ground over repeated, GPS-guided flights. The team combined data from flights on Aug. 12, 2011, and Aug. 19, 2011. The resulting maps are called interferograms.
This perspective view looking eastward from Google Earth shows a portion of the full UAVSAR interferogram that is approximately 1.25 by 4 miles (2 by 6 kilometers). The full-resolution image has a pixel size of about 23 feet (7 meters) on the ground. The full-resolution data for this interferogram in original binary files and as .kmz files for display in Google Earth are available at http://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/product.pl?jobName=Slumgl_30502_11058-003_11060-002_0007d_s01_L090_01#data
UAVSAR is part of NASA's ongoing effort to apply space-based technologies, ground-based techniques and complex computer models to advance our understanding of Earth deformation processes, such as those caused by earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides. UAVSAR is also serving as a flying test bed to evaluate the tools and technologies for future space-based radars, such as those planned for a NASA Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mission currently in formulation. That mission will study hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes and landslides, as well as global environmental change.
For more information on UAVSAR, visit http://uavsar.jpl.nasa.gov/.