THE Great Pyramids and Sydney Harbour at night have been captured in the debut images released by the first all-British radar satellite.

Launched into orbit in September, the NovaSAR spacecraft can take pictures of the Earth’s surface in all weather conditions including heavy cloud, day or night.

The satellite, which looks a little like a cheese grater, has diverse applications such as ocean surveillance, oil spill detection, flood and forestry monitoring, disaster response and crop assessment.

Backed by a £21m Government investment, it was developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited of Guildford alongside Airbus in Portsmouth.

Its first images were released yesterday.

Science and education minister Sam Gyimah said: “Yet again we can see UK research and innovation that is truly out of this world. This ‘eye in the sky’ can capture an image a dozen times wider than the Strait of Dover and the data it provides can help crack problems from illegal shipping to alerting us to damaging pollution that needs to be countered.”

The radar satellite technology is a powerful tool for monitoring the Earth from space because it can see through clouds and monitor at any time of day or night. This enables the craft to spot illegal logging in high cloud-covered forests, such as the Amazon, and track suspicious shipping activity such as smuggling.