MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICE
JET PROPULSION LABORATORY
CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY
NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
PASADENA, CALIFORNIA 91109. TELEPHONE (818) 354-5011
Contact: Mary Hardin, JPL, (818) 354-0344
Leslie A. Mathews, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDecember 22, 1998
AIRSAR COMPLETES COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS MISSION
NASA's Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (AIRSAR) recently
completed a series of Earth Science flights designed to explore
commercial applications of scientific data.
During October and November, Dryden's DC-8 Flying Laboratory
had been outfitted with the AIRSAR instrument operated by
scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The aircraft is
part of Dryden's Airborne Science Program at Dryden Flight
Research Center, Edwards, CA.
The AIRSAR experiment, which flies periodically on the DC-8,
collects data that is used to support a wide range of research.
Among the many uses of radar data are applications that enhance
researchers' ability to predict agricultural yields, forest
health, and volcanic and tectonic activity.
The objective of the most recent DC-8 project was to develop
commercial applications for the data under the Earth Observing
Commercial Applications Program, managed out of NASA's Stennis
Space Center in Mississippi.
When the DC-8 was based for 10 days at Eglin Air Force Base,
Fla, the crew flew daily missions over the Southeast gathering
scientific data with the AIRSAR experiment. For several weeks
before and after the deployment, the DC-8 flew sorties over the
Western United States.
"AIRSAR's many operating modes and targeted data collection
will assist industry in developing applications to such issues as
crop insurance and telecommunications equipment sites. Several
experimental modes, including a high-resolution mode and a mode
to measure ocean currents, were also tested on these flights,"
said Ellen O'Leary, AIRSAR science coordinator at JPL.
During one flight, the Dryden and JPL crews were joined by
three astronauts training for next year's STS-99 mission that
will fly the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). SRTM will
map 80 percent of the Earth's land surfaces to provide a three-
dimensional map of the Earth.
"Several versions of SAR have flown on Space Shuttle
missions. While producing useful data for Earth scientists, the
DC-8 also serves as a testbed for future airborne and space-based
SAR missions," said Mark Pestana, Dryden's DC-8 mission manager,
More information about the AIRSAR mission is available at
JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology.