Seeing Rainbows: A Sneak Peek at a Special Capella Project

Once in while it’s fun to look at things—or in our case, Earth—with a different perspective. At Capella Space, we like to challenge ourselves with projects that explore new insights and possibilities for future problem-solving. Last year, we hosted our second annual Capella hackathon, a three-day event where team members came together to creatively explore the countless possibilities synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can offer. Since then, one particularly colorful internal project has kept us intrigued: RainbowSAR.

You may have heard of Colorized Sub-aperture Image (CSI) data before. However, Capella is unique in its ability to do a long-dwell spotlight, allowing us to stack together multiple sub-apertures (independent, very-high-resolution (VHR) looks) to visualize changes in geometry between the sensor and target over the duration of a collect, including motions of any objects in the scene. This data can be mapped as colors – resulting in a RainbowSAR image!

Let’s look at the image below of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as an example. In it, you can distinctly see how vehicle movements have been captured by colors.  The movement of vehicles on the highway gets color-coded as a rainbow since they have a relative velocity to the satellite when the image was being collected.

Here’s RainbowSAR in action overlooking New York City. The orientation of neighborhoods in the West Village cause street blocks to take on a distinct color in this view. 

RainbowSAR is a signal-processing exercise and an R&D project for studying buildings, motion, and the physics of scattering in VHR SAR images. This project could not have come to life without our core value of Community

The Capella team is made up of people from different backgrounds, beliefs, cultures, and opinions that share a respect for diversity and foster an environment of inclusion. This Pride month, we wanted to share something both interesting and uniquely beautiful that celebrates our community working together.


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