In much of our research, we are collecting new radar images of the State of Hawaii. Some of these data are collected using the University of Hawaii's own satellite ground station, which has been built by faculty in the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology. Since May 1997, this ground station has been collecting radar and optical images from the Japanese JERS-1 spacecraft. We have collected at least one radar image of almost the entire State, with only the eastern side of Kauai not imaged to date. You can see these radar images by clicking on the names of the islands given below:

Niihau and Kauai, Oahu, Molokai and Lanai, Maui and Kahoolawe, the Big Island.

In addition to this large-area mapping, we have also been trying to compare different radar systems to see which on works best for specific applications in Hawaii. So far, West Maui has been imaged by the greatest number of different orbital radar systems. You can see a comparison of the Shuttle Radar (SIR-C), ERS-2, JERS-1 and RADARSAT images for West Maui by clicking here.

A second research topic for which radar is essential is the analysis of topographic change, which in Hawaii might be casued by ground deformation or by the formation of new lava flows. We have been able to detect the area of new lava flows produced by Kilauea volcano over the time period December 25, 1997 and March 1998 using the JERS-1 radar and a technique called "radar interferometry". Also, we are experimenting with the using radar interferometry to map the topography of the Big Island with the JERS-1 radar. You can see our preliminary attempt at a map by clicking here.

Some of the radar data, such as the SIR-C and JERS-1 images, are most helpful for studies over the land. However, ERS-2 data have an incidence angle (23°) that makes these observations very helpful for oceanographic studies too. We show some examples of ocean features from SW Maui and the Kona Coast of the Big Island.

We are also experimenting with a NASA aircraft radar system called TOPSAR. This instrument is flown on the NASA DC-8 aircraft, and it has collected digital topographic data for parts of the Big Island and Oahu.


Author: Peter Mouginis-Mark
Copyright by P. Mouginis-Mark
Curator: Lori Glaze
Copyright © 1996
All Rights Reserved.