National Geographic : 1983 Sep
CHARLESO'REAR (BELOWRIGHT); NASAJET PROPULSIONLABORATORY made by the shuttle's radarin a sweep From the Great Wall to from the GreatWall to the Yellow Sea. J the Yellow Sea, the 50 kilometer-wide track An enlargement (below, middle) of of the shuttle's imaing area B shows drainagepatterns CHINA radartraverses deserts, radiatingfrom the Luya Mountains mountains, and in Shanxi Province. The mountain PHILIPPINE agriculturalareas. peaks are heavily forested and show as SEA brightareas. The mountains meet the Mu Us Desert (bottom left) in an enlargement of areaA. Principalinvestigatorof the team that created the shuttle's radar,Dr. CharlesElachi (right) examines strips of the imagery atJPL. "We knew in theory that radarcould penetrate sand," he says, "but this is the first time it has been verified on a large scale." From archaeologyto geologic mapping, Dr. Elachisees a brightfuture for the new imagingprocess. On a shuttle mission next year, the radarwill image Egypt's entire Western Desert. NASA plans to put the radaron a spacecraftbound for Venus in 1988 to create the first map of that cloud covered planet.