PIA01796: Space Radar Image of Pishan, China
 Target Name:  Earth
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar 
 Spacecraft:  Space Shuttle
 Product Size:  3998 x 2166 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Producer ID:  P46177
 Addition Date:  1999-04-15
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA01796.tif (30.7 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA01796.jpg (2.58 MB)

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Original Caption Released with Image:

This radar image is centered near the small town of Pishan in northwest China, about 280 km (174 miles) southeast of the city of Kashgar along the ancient Silk Route in the Taklamakan desert of the Xinjiang Province. Geologists are using this radar image as a map to study past climate changes and tectonics of the area. The irregular lavender branching patterns in the center of the image are the remains of ancient alluvial fans, gravel deposits that have accumulated at the base of the mountains during times of wetter climate. The subtle striped pattern cutting across the ancient fans are caused by thrusting of the Kun Lun Mountains north. This motion is caused by the continuing plate-tectonic collision of India with Asia. Modern fans show up as large lavender triangles above the ancient fan deposits. Yellow areas on the modern fans are vegetated oases. The gridded pattern results from the alignment of poplar trees that have been planted as wind breaks. The reservoir at the top of the image is part of a sophisticated irrigation system that supplies water to the oases.

This image was acquired by the Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C/X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SIR-C/X-SAR) aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in April 1994. This image is centered at 37.4 degrees north latitude, 78.3 degrees east longitude and shows an area approximately 50 km by 100 km (31 miles by 62 miles). The colors are assigned to different frequencies and polarizations of the radar as follows: Red is L-band horizontally transmitted, horizontally received; green is L-band horizontally transmitted, vertically received; and blue is C-band horizontally transmitted and vertically received. SIR-C/X-SAR, a joint mission of the German, Italian, and the United States space agencies, is part of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth.

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