The Swiss Plateau by Night
Orbit 37229, Frame 0936, 3 June 2002 21:40 GMT
ERS passed over this area in central Europe twice the same day,
the 3rd June 2002, once at 12:40 local time on a
descending orbit, heading south-southwest, and once again in the
night, at 21:40, travelling north-northwest.
The ERS radar always looks to the right along its track, thus pointing
towards west in the late morning and towards east on the
night pass. This nighttime pass was rotated 26 degrees so that
it can be readily compared with the same area imaged during a
The lakes visible on the image take the names of the
principal towns on their shores: Lake of Neuchâtel (the largest),
Lake of Bienne and Lake of Murten, the smallest.
Judging from the water surface, the weather was calm, with
just local winds during data acquisition. However
it was cloudy and scattered thunderstorms were reported over
the Jura earlier in the morning
and later in the day in Eastern Switzerland.
The cities around the three lakes of the Swiss Plateau
are hosting the EXPO.02, the sixth National Exhibition, with
the last being held in 1964. For this event
major constructions have been erected and they are well visible
in the full-resolution image.
Perfectly conspicuous is a huge cloud machine in the form of a
metallic structure with thousands of small water jets that
has been built on the water in Yverdon, at the southern
end of the Lake of Neuchâtel (circle 2).
In Murten (circle 3) the Monolith, a 34-meter cube
made of steel plates, is far more visible on the night image.
This can be well explained: in the nighttime pass, the cube
has a far more favourable orientation with respect to the radar illumination.
The town of Bienne (circle 4) possesses the largest exhibition structure
of all, a group of three enormous towers
representing "power and freedom". In both images, they are shown in
a similar way, but small differences occur due to the radar viewing angle.
Finally, in Neuchâtel, the huge platform (circle 5) constructed on the
lake with three roofs formed as immense
pebblestones, is equally well represented in both images.
Click on the circled areas above to see high-resolution details of this image.
Keywords: ESA European
Space Agency - Agence spatiale europeenne,
observation de la terre, earth observation,
satellite remote sensing,
teledetection, geophysique, altimetrie, radar,
chimique atmospherique, geophysics, altimetry, radar,