This colourful radar composite image shows changes in large-scale agricultural plots in southwest Iran.
The individual images were acquired by the radar on Japan’s ALOS satellite on 16 November, 16 May and 1 October 2010. Combined, the different colours show changes in the fields – such as harvesting at different points on time.
The most prominent fields in this image each measure about 1 km across. To the lower right, the smaller structures are ponds for aquaculture. Important fish for inland fisheries include carp, roach and mullet.
Running through the centre of the image is the Karun River. It is the country’s only navigable river, originating in the Zagros mountains and running its 720 km course southwest and into the Shatt al-Arab river, which then flows into the Persian Gulf.
Clusters of bright white radar reflections indicate the presence of buildings and other human-made structures, such as those seen in the middle of the blocks of fields and along the river.
On the centre-right side of the image, we can also see dots of white, evenly dispersed in a single row east-to-west. These are reflections from towers holding power lines. While these structures are difficult to spot in optical imagery – like the satellite images on Google Earth – their reflectivity makes them more visible to radar.
This image is featured on the Earth from Space video programme.