Synthetic aperture radar: not just a sensor of last resort
Modern high-performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems have evolved into highly versatile, robust, and reliable tactical sensors, offering images and information not available from other sensor systems. For example, real-time images are routinely formed by the Sandia-designed General Atomics (AN/APY-8) Lynx SAR yielding 4-inch resolution at 25 km range (representing better than arc-second resolutions) in clouds, smoke, and rain. Sandia's Real-Time Visualization (RTV) program operates an Interferometric SAR (IFSAR) system that forms three-dimensional (3D) topographic maps in near real-time with National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) level 4 performance (3 meter post spacing with 0.8-meter height accuracy) or better. When exported to 3-D rendering software, this data allows remarkable interactive fly-through experiences. Coherent Change Detection (CCD) allows detecting tire tracks on dirt roads, foot-prints, and other minor, otherwise indiscernible ground disturbances long after their originators have left the scene. Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI) radar modes allow detecting and tracking moving vehicles. A Sandia program known as "MiniSAR" is developing technologies that are expected to culminate in a fully functioning, high-performance, real-time SAR that weighs less than 20 lbs. The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of recent technology developments, as well as current on-going research and development efforts at Sandia National Laboratories.
This paper was published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5109
Airborne Reconnaissance XXVII, Arthur A. Andraitis; Jerry D. Greer; Gerard J. Leygraaf, Editors, pp.98-109