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An experiment was conducted from an L-band syntheticaperture perture radar aboard space shuttle Challenger in October 1984 to study the microwave backscatter dependence on soil moisture, surface roughness, and vegetation cover. The results based on the anlyses of an image obtained at 21Â° incidence angle show a positive correlation between scattering coefficient and soil moisture content, with a sensitivity comparable to that derived from the ground radar measurements . The surface roughness strongly affects the microwave backscatter. A factor of 2 change in the standard deviation of surface roughness height gives a corresponding change of about 8 dB in the scattering coefficient. The microwave backscatter also depends on the vegetation types. Under the dry soil conditions, the scattering coefficient is observed to change from about -24 dB for an alfalfa or lettuce field to about -17 dB for a mature corn field. These results suggest that observations with a synthetic-aperture radar system of multiple frequencies ies and polarizations are required to unravel the effects of soil ture,oisre, surface roughness, and vegetation cover.