While it is well-known that the collision of the Indian subcontinent with the Eurasian continent forms the Himalayas, the real-time spatial crustal movement of these plates is difficult to observe. However, scientists can witness a part of this process of the formation of the Himalayas through an eye in space: synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

From the European Space Agency's Envisat, a satellite with SAR, the details of crustal deformation resulting from a major earthquake—a chance snapshot of the growth of the Himalayas—has been captured. Envisat's SAR has provided important data about the northern Pakistan earthquake (M7.6) of 8 October 2005, which occurred in the Kashmir region in the northwestern part of the Himalayas.