International Space Station

Radar Image Of The ISS

A while back the International Space Station (ISS) passed across the field-of-view of Germany's remote sensing satellite, TerraSAR-X, at a distance of 122 miles and at a relative speed of 34,540 over 22,000 mph. The encounter lasted for about three seconds, but this brief moment was long enough for the synthetic aperture radar on TerraSAR-X to acquire an image of the ISS, a structure measuring about 360 ft 330 ft by 100 ft.
In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

Just a few hours before this image was taken, Space Shuttle Endeavour was docked with the ISS as part of the 1J/A mission; its payload was the Japanese Logistics Module. At the time this picture was taken, the ISS was already truly international: the Russian and American modules as well as the European 'Columbus' laboratory were all installed. The impressive solar power plant on the Space Station was almost ready for operation, with six of its eight panels already in position. The orbital configuration that provides the opportunity for a picture like this occurs between 10 and 11 times each month, but there is absolutely no risk of a collision because TerraSAR-X and the ISS are on very different orbits.

Radar image of the ISS


In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not 'see' surfaces. Instead, the mirowave signals transmitted by the radar are reflected back much more intensely by edges and corners. Smooth surfaces such as those on the solar power generators of the ISS or the radiator panels used to dissipate excess heat, unless directly facing the radar antenna, tend to deflect rather than reflect the radar beam, causing these features to appear as dark areas on the radar image. The radar image of the ISS therefore looks like a dense collection of bright spots from which the outlines of the Space Station can be identified clearly. The central element on the ISS, to which all the modules are docked, has a lattice grid structure with several surfaces to reflect the radar beam, making it readily identifiable.

This image has a resolution of about three feet. In other words, objects can be depicted as discrete units - that is, shown separately – provided that they are at least three feet apart. If they are closer together, they tend to merge into a single block on a radar image. However, if they have good reflective properties, objects measuring less than three feet can be portrayed effectively. Having said that, the radar image will always enlarge them to at least three feet – there being no way around the laws of physics in this case.

Source: German Aerospace Center
International Space Station - Radar Image Of The ISS | Redshift live

International Space Station

Radar Image Of The ISS

A while back the International Space Station (ISS) passed across the field-of-view of Germany's remote sensing satellite, TerraSAR-X, at a distance of 122 miles and at a relative speed of 34,540 over 22,000 mph. The encounter lasted for about three seconds, but this brief moment was long enough for the synthetic aperture radar on TerraSAR-X to acquire an image of the ISS, a structure measuring about 360 ft 330 ft by 100 ft.
In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

Just a few hours before this image was taken, Space Shuttle Endeavour was docked with the ISS as part of the 1J/A mission; its payload was the Japanese Logistics Module. At the time this picture was taken, the ISS was already truly international: the Russian and American modules as well as the European 'Columbus' laboratory were all installed. The impressive solar power plant on the Space Station was almost ready for operation, with six of its eight panels already in position. The orbital configuration that provides the opportunity for a picture like this occurs between 10 and 11 times each month, but there is absolutely no risk of a collision because TerraSAR-X and the ISS are on very different orbits.

Radar image of the ISS


In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not 'see' surfaces. Instead, the mirowave signals transmitted by the radar are reflected back much more intensely by edges and corners. Smooth surfaces such as those on the solar power generators of the ISS or the radiator panels used to dissipate excess heat, unless directly facing the radar antenna, tend to deflect rather than reflect the radar beam, causing these features to appear as dark areas on the radar image. The radar image of the ISS therefore looks like a dense collection of bright spots from which the outlines of the Space Station can be identified clearly. The central element on the ISS, to which all the modules are docked, has a lattice grid structure with several surfaces to reflect the radar beam, making it readily identifiable.

This image has a resolution of about three feet. In other words, objects can be depicted as discrete units - that is, shown separately – provided that they are at least three feet apart. If they are closer together, they tend to merge into a single block on a radar image. However, if they have good reflective properties, objects measuring less than three feet can be portrayed effectively. Having said that, the radar image will always enlarge them to at least three feet – there being no way around the laws of physics in this case.

Source: German Aerospace Center
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International Space Station

Radar Image Of The ISS

A while back the International Space Station (ISS) passed across the field-of-view of Germany's remote sensing satellite, TerraSAR-X, at a distance of 122 miles and at a relative speed of 34,540 over 22,000 mph. The encounter lasted for about three seconds, but this brief moment was long enough for the synthetic aperture radar on TerraSAR-X to acquire an image of the ISS, a structure measuring about 360 ft 330 ft by 100 ft.
In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not ‘see’ surfaces. Instead, it is much more aware of the edges and corners which bounce back the microwave signal it transmits.

Just a few hours before this image was taken, Space Shuttle Endeavour was docked with the ISS as part of the 1J/A mission; its payload was the Japanese Logistics Module. At the time this picture was taken, the ISS was already truly international: the Russian and American modules as well as the European 'Columbus' laboratory were all installed. The impressive solar power plant on the Space Station was almost ready for operation, with six of its eight panels already in position. The orbital configuration that provides the opportunity for a picture like this occurs between 10 and 11 times each month, but there is absolutely no risk of a collision because TerraSAR-X and the ISS are on very different orbits.

Radar image of the ISS


In contrast to optical cameras, radar does not 'see' surfaces. Instead, the mirowave signals transmitted by the radar are reflected back much more intensely by edges and corners. Smooth surfaces such as those on the solar power generators of the ISS or the radiator panels used to dissipate excess heat, unless directly facing the radar antenna, tend to deflect rather than reflect the radar beam, causing these features to appear as dark areas on the radar image. The radar image of the ISS therefore looks like a dense collection of bright spots from which the outlines of the Space Station can be identified clearly. The central element on the ISS, to which all the modules are docked, has a lattice grid structure with several surfaces to reflect the radar beam, making it readily identifiable.

This image has a resolution of about three feet. In other words, objects can be depicted as discrete units - that is, shown separately – provided that they are at least three feet apart. If they are closer together, they tend to merge into a single block on a radar image. However, if they have good reflective properties, objects measuring less than three feet can be portrayed effectively. Having said that, the radar image will always enlarge them to at least three feet – there being no way around the laws of physics in this case.

Source: German Aerospace Center
» print article

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Solar Eclipse by Redshift

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Observe, understand, and marvel at the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017! » more

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Observe, understand, and marvel at the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017! » more

Redshift 8 Premium

Redshift 8 Premium - Download Edition (Multilingua Edition)

Explore the universe from your PC with the award-winning and professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Premium DL deutsch/engl 2

Redshift 8 Premium - Update from older versions

Update from Redshift 7 or older to the current version of the professional planetarium software - Languages: German, English, French
 » more

Redshift 8 Compact

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The professional planetarium software for beginners » more