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Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of TechnologyAIRSAR Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar

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   The AIRSAR Mission (1988-2004)


A Flying Laboratory    AIRSAR instrument (panels behind wing) mounted aboard a modified NASA DC-8 aircraft.  During data collection, the plane flew at 8 kilometers over the average terrain height at a velocity of 215 meters per second.

The Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) was an all-weather imaging tool able to penetrate through clouds and collect data at night.  The longer wavelengths could also penetrate into the forest canopy and in extremely dry areas, through  thin sand cover and dry snow pack.  AIRSAR was designed and built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) which also manages the AIRSAR project.   AIRSAR served as a NASA radar technology testbed for demonstrating new radar technology and acquiring data for the development of radar processing  techniques and applications.  As part of NASA’s Earth Science Enterprise, AIRSAR first flew in 1988, and flew its last mission in 2004.

Please visit the UAVSAR website for more information about JPL's lastest airborne synthetic aperture radar.

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 JPL Imaging Radar
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Updated: Aug 19, 2008
JPL CL 03-0213