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Radar's ability to "see" through darkness, clouds and smoke and to cover large areas gives it unique power as a global remote-sensing tool. Imaging radar evolved from its beginnings 50 years ago through airborne research to space-borne systems. Operational space-borne systems of today are capable of generating global geological and topographic maps, using advanced synthetic aperture radar techniques such as polarimetry and interferometry. The future holds great promise for increased use of imaging radar for remote sensing, including, more accurate elevation mapping, natural hazards monitoring, soil moisture mapping and biomass estimation.