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TerraSAR-X, the first civil German synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite, was successfully launched on June 15, 2007. After 4.5 days, the first processed image was obtained. The overall quality of the image was outstanding; however, suspicious features could be identified which showed precipitation-related signatures. These rain-cell signatures are thoroughly investigated, and the physical background of the related propagation effects is provided. In addition, rain-cell signatures from former missions like SIR-C/X and the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission are provided for comparison. During the commissioning phase of TerraSAR-X, a total of 12 000 scenes were investigated for potential propagation effects, and about 100 scenes revealed atmospheric effects to a visible extent. Some of the particularly interesting events were selected and are discussed in greater detail. An interesting case of data acquisition over New York will be presented, which shows typical rain-cell signatures, and the SAR image will be compared with weather-radar data acquired nearly simultaneously (within the same minute). By comparing the images, it can be clearly seen that reflectivities in the weather-radar image of 50 dBZ may cause visible artifacts in SAR images. Furthermore, in this paper, we discuss the influence of the atmosphere (troposphere) on the external calibration of TerraSAR-X. By acquiring simultaneous weather-radar data over the test site and the SAR acquisition, it was possible to flag affected SAR images and to exclude them from the procedure to derive the absolute calibration constant. Thus, it was possible to decrease the 1 sigma uncertainty of the absolute calibration factor by 0.15 dB.