The above figure is a low-resolution version of the first seamless mosaic of Antarctica, which was compiled from synthetic aperture radar images.They were acquired by the Canadian Satellite RADARSAT-1 between September and October 1997 as part of the Antarctic mapping mission (AMM) a collaboration between the U.S. the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to completely map the Antarctic with RADARSAT-1.
The mosaic was created at the Byrd Polar Research Center using a mapping system developed by Vexcel Corporation. The Alaska SAR Facility (ASF) processed all of the raw signal data into images. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) developed the mission acquisition plan. In addition, the project received assistance from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA).
What is Antarctic mapping mission (AMM)?
Antarctica, a region the size of Canada and Alaska combined, has never been fully mapped from space at high resolutions. The AMM was aimed at completing this mapping. Such coverage was not possible with existing or previous space-borne high-resolution sensors because of their orbit inclination and/or field-of-view capability.
Partners in the AMM included the CSA and NASA. The CSA supported draws upon the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Limited (MDA) Geospatial Services. NASA supported draws upon its own facilities: ASF, JPL, and the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), as well as the Byrd Polar Research Center of Ohio State University (OSU), Vexcel Corporation, the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM), NSF and the NIMA.
Science benefits and opportunities
The RADARSAT-1 AMM had an important significance for the scientific community. Almost 70% of the Earth's fresh water is contained in the Antarctic region, and changes in this enormous reservoir directly influence world sea-levels and climate.