NASA has issued an announcement of opportunity for the Lightweight Synthetic Aperture (LightSAR) mission, a proposed, low-cost, long-duration advanced Earth imaging radar satellite planned for launch in late 2002.

Proposals for mission development and operations using the next generation, lightweight satellite are open to all types of organizations, including educational institutions, industry, nonprofit institutions, NASA field centers, federally funded research and development centers and other governmental agencies. The announcement of opportunity is available via the Internet at . Proposals must be submitted to NASA by May 10, 1999. A pre-proposal conference will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time March 18 at the Crystal City Sheraton in Arlington.

LightSAR is part of NASA's long-term interest in the development and prosperous use of imaging radar science and technology in the public and private sector. Past U.S. civilian spaceborne radar missions, which have been short in duration, have established the vast potential of imaging radar for expanding scientific knowledge of Earth and planets.

LightSAR is the next step in delivering exciting Earth science data that fulfills a fundamental part of NASA's Earth Science strategic plan. While demonstrating new technologies that reduce the cost and enhance the performance of synthetic aperture radar missions, LightSAR will open new opportunities for the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry.

LightSAR's all-weather, day-night remote sensing capability and visibility almost anywhere on Earth is expected to result in numerous scientifically valuable and commercially lucrative applications. For example, LightSAR will have the unique capability to continuously monitor minute changes in the Earth's surface, down to the millimeter level, which will lead to improved understanding of natural hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes. At the same time, these advanced capabilities will greatly aid in the development of better emergency management efforts.

Other applications include studying the movements and changing size of glaciers and ice floes, which will support long- term climate variability studies. The forest regrowth and biomass mapping data produced by LightSAR will support NASA's on-going studies of land cover and land use change. LightSAR's high- resolution imaging capability has significant commercial potential for topographic mapping, surveillance, crop monitoring and land management, planning and development as well.

The LightSAR program has goals that are scientific, commercial and technological. This combination will create an opportunity for proposers who wish to take advantage of LightSAR's large commercial potential. One of the unique features of the program will be to encourage proposers to share in the costs of carrying out their investigations in return for commercial rights to the data.

Requests for further information should be directed to Richard M. Monson, associate director for Earth probes, at (202) 358-3552, or via email at

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, is managing the LightSAR project for NASA's Office of Earth Science, Washington, DC, which oversees a long-term, coordinated research enterprise designed to study Earth as a global environmental system.

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