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Winds - Measuring ocean winds from space
Amazon Rainforest in South America
Amazon Rainforest in South America

This is a radar image of the Amazon rainforest in South America taken by the NASA Scatterometer (NSCAT) which was onboard Japan's Advanced Earth Observing Satellite. The scatterometer's primary function was to study winds over the oceans, but scientists have devised a way of studying changes in the instrument's radar backscatter to look at land surfaces as well. The scatterometer's radar was sensitive to conditions on the Earth's surface, such as the type and density of vegetation. Tropical rainforests are critical to the climatic health of the Earth and are thought to contain half of all the world's species. The false color image is being used by scientists to identify types of vegetation on the surface. Blue and purple areas are tropical rainforest and green and yellow regions are woodlands and savanna. Mountains and degraded farm lands show up as black. The scatterometer instrument is a new tool in land studies and allows for comparisons over long time spans in order to assess the extent of tropical deforestation in this sensitive area.

NSCAT was launched from Japan on August 16, 1996, and the mission represented the first major collaboration between the two nations in Earth remote-sensing. JPL developed, built and manages the NSCAT instrument for NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program.

B&W Hi-Res (520 kB)

Credit: NASA/JPL


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