NASA Flew Radar Collecting Data in Chile

group of students
A group of students participated in two field trips to visit NASA’s scientific mission.

A NASA piloted aircraft carrying the Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR) flew over Chile in March collecting scientific data as part of a South America campaign to address a broad range of questions, from the dynamics of Earth’s crust and glaciers to the carbon cycle and the lives of ancient Peruvian civilizations.

UAVSAR is an L-band fully polarimetric radar flying aboard the 502 NASA Gulfstream III Jet. UAVSAR has been collecting scientific data since 2009 and flew for the first time in South America in 2013.

SAR is a very versatile remote sensing technology that can help address questions related to earth surface mapping. UAVSAR imagery has been used to map volcanic activity and earthquakes, wetlands, vegetation structure and soil moisture.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California built and manages UAVSAR. This aerial vehicle uses a technique called interferometry that sends microwave energy pulses from the sensor on the aircraft to the ground. This technique can detect and measure subtle changes in the Earth’s surface, such as those caused by earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and glacier movements. The radar’s L-band microwaves can penetrate clouds and the tops of forests, making it valuable for studying cloud-covered tropical environments and mapping flooded ecosystems.

On March 31, students participating in the U.S. Embassy’s micro scholarship ACCESS Program, as well as engineering students from the University of Talca and Diego Portales University participated in two field trips to visit NASA’s scientific mission. Both activities were coordinated by the American Academy of Science and Technology, in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy in Santiago.