System design for geosynchronous synthetic aperture radar missions

S. Hobbs, C. Mitchell, B. Forte, R. Holley, B. Snapir, P. Whittaker

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Geosynchronous synthetic aperture radar (GEO SAR) has been studied for several decades but has not yet been implemented. This paper provides an overview of mission design, describing significant constraints (atmosphere, orbit, temporal stability of the surface and atmosphere, measurement physics, and radar performance) and then uses these to propose an approach to initial system design. The methodology encompasses all GEO SAR mission concepts proposed to date. Important classifications of missions are: 1) those that require atmospheric phase compensation to achieve their design spatial resolution; and 2) those that achieve full spatial resolution without phase compensation. Means of estimating the atmospheric phase screen are noted, including a novel measurement of the mean rate of change of the atmospheric phase delay, which GEO SAR enables. Candidate mission concepts are described. It seems likely that GEO SAR will be feasible in a wide range of situations, although extreme weather and unstable surfaces (e.g., water, tall vegetation) prevent 100% coverage. GEO SAR offers an exciting imaging capability that powerfully complements existing systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7750-7763
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2014


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