Shuttle Imaging Radar-A

Shuttle Imaging Radar antenna Shuttle Imaging Radar antenna

Shuttle Imaging Radar antenna. Image Credit: NASA/JPL
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Mission Summary

Designed to fly aboard NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-2, Shuttle Imaging Radar-A was the first in a series of instruments that imaged Earth using radar pulses, rather than optical light, as illumination. The instrument helped detect the remnants of buried ancient riverbeds in the Sahara Desert because it could peer beneath features like sand, which are impenitrable to optical light observations.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory built the instrument and its follow-ons, which were the largest space structures ever built at JPL.

Acronym: SIR-A
Type: Instrument
Status: Past
Launch Date: November 12, 1981
10:09 a.m. EST (15:09 UTC)
Launch Location: Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing Date: November 14, 1981
1:20 p.m. PST (21:23 UTC)
Mission End Date: November 14, 1981
Target: Earth
SIR-A data 20 years of Shuttle Imaging Radar

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