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Shuttle Radar Topography Mission



The Shuttle Radar Topography Mission instrument consisted of three sections. The main antenna was located in the payload bay of Space Shuttle Endeavour, the mast was connected to the main antenna truss, and an outboard antenna was connected to the end of the mast.

In order to gather topographic (elevation) data of Earth's surface, SRTM used the technique of interferometry. In interferometry, two images are taken from different vantage points of the same area. The slight difference in the two images allows scientists to determine the height of the surface. Portion of SIR-C interferogram When two interferometric radar data sets are combined (or "interfered") the first product made is called an interferogram.

(Portion of SIR-C interferogram of Fort Irwin, California)

Diagram of main antenna, mast, and outboard antenna To get two images from different vantage points, a main antenna was installed in Space Shuttle Endeavour's cargo bay. The main antenna both transmitted and received radar signals.

Once the shuttle was in space, a mast was deployed from a canister that was attached to the main antenna truss. The mast extended out 60 meters (200 feet).

At the end of the mast, an outboard antenna acted as the second vantage point and received radar signals.

Radar System Overview Hardware Diagram
Main Antenna Interferometry Explained
Mast Interferometry Explained - More Detail
Outboard Antenna Interferometry Bibliography
Attitude and Orbit Determination Avionics Papers
SRTM Bibliography