Artist concept of Seasat

Radar images of the coastal regions of North America are being studied by scientists as Seasat-A, NASA's first ocean monitoring satellite, completes its first month in orbit.

Launched June 26 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Seasat is observing the world's oceans from an 805-kilometer (500-mile) high polar orbit.

One of the satellite's five microwave sensors is powerful radar system, called Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), which produces "pictures" of the Earth's surface day or night and under all weather conditions.

A typical SAR operation produces continuous swath of radar images 97 km (60 mi.) wide by 4,023 km (2,500 mi) long, extending from the west coast of Mexico to Alaska. The information for such swath is acquired by the satellite in 10 minutes and is processed later into strip of pictures at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. JPL manages the Seasat project for the NASA Office of Space and Terrestrial Applications.

Radar images now being analyzed include those which show the Arctic ice pack, the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, the Caribbean Sea off the northern coast of South America, recent hurricane zone in the Pacific near the Baja California peninsula.

In addition to the NASA scientists, other government agency scientists studying the Seasat data are from: the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, National Environmental Satellite Service, U.S. Navy and the U.S. Geological Survey.

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