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Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar

System

INTRODUCTION

When a disaster occurs it is very important to grasp the situation as


soon as possible. But it is very difficult to get the information from the
ground because there are a lot of things which prevent us from getting such
important data such as clouds and volcanic eruptions. While using an optical
sensor, large amount of data is shut out by such barriers. In such cases,
Synthetic Aperture Radar or SAR is a very useful means to collect data even
if the observation area is covered with obstacles or an observation is made
at night at night time because SAR uses microwaves and these are radiated
by the sensor itself. The SAR sensor can be installed in some satellite and the
surface of the earth can be observed.

To support the scientific applications utilizing space-borne imaging


radar systems, a set of radar technologies have been developed which can
dramatically lower the weight, volume, power and data rates of the radar
systems. These smaller and lighter SAR systems can be readily
accommodated in small spacecraft and launch vehicles enabling significantly
reduced total mission cost.

Specific areas of radar technology development include the antenna,


RF electronics, digital electronics and data processing. A radar technology
development plan is recommended to develop and demonstrate these
technologies and integrate them into the radar missions in a timely manner.
It is envisioned that these technology advances can revolutionize the
approach to SAR missions leading to higher performance systems at
significantly reduced mission costs.

Dept. of AEI 1 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

The SAR systems are placed on satellites for the imaging process.
Microwave satellites register images in the microwave region of the
electromagnetic spectrum. Two mode of microwave sensors exit- the active
and the passive modes. SAR is an active sensor which carry on –board an
instrument that sends a microwave pulse to the surface of the earth and
register the reflections from the surface of the earth.

One way of collecting images from the space under darkness or


closed cover is to install the SAR on a satellite . As the satellite moves along
its orbit, the SAR looks out sideways from the direction of travel, acquiring
and storing the radar echoes which return from a strip of earth's surface that
was under observation.

The raw data collected by SAR are severely unfocussed and


considerable processing is required to generate a focused image. The
processing has traditionally been done on ground and a downlink with a
high data rate is required. This is a time consuming process as well. The high
data rate of the downlink can be reduced by using a SAR instrument with on-
board processing.

Dept. of AEI 2 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

X-BAND SAR INSTRUMENT DEMONSTRATOR

The X-band SAR instrument demonstrator forms the standardized


part or basis for a future Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instrument with
active front- end. SAR is an active sensor. Active sensors carry on-board an
instrument that sends a microwave pulse to the surface of the earth and
register the reflections from the surface of the earth. Different sensor use
different bands in the microwave regions of the electromagnetic spectrum for
collecting data. In the X-band SAR instrument, the X-band is used for
collecting data.

Fig.1. X – band SAR instrument demonstrator

The demonstrator embraces the active front-end panel, the central


electronics and the Electrical Ground Support Equipment (EGSE).The active
front-end panel consist of the radiators, the T/R modules, panel control
electronics, panel power conditioner, distribution network and the calibration
network. The panel is flight representative in form, fit and function to lower
the development risk for future SAR instrument applications. The system

Dept. of AEI 3 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
shall be capable to change the radar beam within every pulse interval The
planar antenna consist of 30 dual polarized waveguide radiator subarrays
which are fed by the transmit/receive modules. The function of the T/R
modules is to generate frequency modulated microwave pulses . The
radiators transmit these waves to the ground. The T/R modules perform
coherent detection of received signals (analog in form) and transmit the two
channel video signals ( I and Q) to the signal processor.

There are two panel control electronics (PCE) and only one is active
during operation. The PCE generates commands for the T/R modules on the
basis of pre-programmed configuration tables. The PCE acquires the data
received by the T/R modules and sends them to the digital control electronics
(DCE). The DCE forms the part of the central electronics. The DCE has a
timing generator for generating timing signals for the active array. It also
provides for interfacing to the spacecraft. There is a power converter in the
central electronics which converts a spacecraft voltage of 28V dc to 115V ac
and supplies the panel. On the panel, the ac voltage will be conditioned
for the panel control electronics and the T/R modules. The T/R modules are
connected to a RF ground support equipment. The other parts of the EGSE
are the digital ground support equipment and the master controller. The
master controller will be a computer system which will control and co-
ordinate the whole processes of the system.

Dept. of AEI 4 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
Fig.2. shows a radiator with the 30 radiator subarrays.

A single subarray has two waveguide one for horizontal polarisation


and another for vertical polarisation. A waveguide is a hollow metallic tube
of a rectangular or a circular shape used to guide an electromagnetic wave.
By using a waveguide the no power is lost. At the rear side of the waveguide
is the T/R modules. Connecting the T/R modules and the waveguides is a
thermal plate. The heat generated by the T/R modules is radiated by the
radiator, thus maintaining a good thermal stability over the operational
temperature range of -20oC to 60oC.

Fig. 3 show a single subarray


The fig.4 shows the rear view of a radiator .The PPC, PCE and the
RF fed networks are seen .There is a cross -stiffener for providing
mechanical strength to the whole panel. The cooling loop shown in the
picture is only required for continuous operation on ground.

Dept. of AEI 5 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
Fig.4. Rear view of radiator

ON-BOARD PROCESSING FOR SPACE SAR

Rationale for on-board processing

Image from space under darkness or cloud cover can be obtained by


flying a synthetic aperture radar on a satellite. As the satellite moves along
its orbit ,the SAR looks out sideways from the directions of travel ,acquiring
and storing the radar echoes which return from a strip of the earth's surface
which is under observation.

In contrast to images taken by classical visible and infra-red


camera-like sensors, raw data collected by a SAR are severely unfocussed
and considerable processing is required to generate a focused image. This
processing has traditionally been done on ground and a downlink with a
high data rate is required . A high resolution SAR instrument combined with
one on-board processing unit reduces the data rate of the downlink. The data
rate of a SAR depends on the product of the no. of echoes per second
acquired by SAR .The former may be reduced by careful system design and
latter is determined by system consideration like the chosen orbit and
physical length of antenna and can only be reduced by data processing.
Effective processing is achieved by using full data set to produce several
medium resolution images, which are then averaged to reduced numbers.
This technique is called multi-looking.

In conclusion , a low data rate combined with reduced noise is only


possible if image is generated onboard.

Dept. of AEI 6 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

PROCESSING AND STORAGE SUBSYSTEM

The image formation from the radar echo of the SAR instrument
involves a highly sophisticated processing effort. The main function of the
processing and storage subsystem is to process and store the information
obtained from the SAR instrument. The processing stages involves-
1. Buffering of the SAR raw data stream in real-time
2. Off-line image processing and compression of the buffered SAR data
3. Mass memory data management and organisation
4. Reformatting and output of compressed data at downlink rate

Raw data buffering : The digital input data stream fed to the processing and
storage subsystem will have a peak data rate of 2.88Gbps for a SAR
instrument with 150MHz bandwidth. This is the maximum data rate which
must be handled by the input of the subsystem. The input data comes in
bursts, which corresponds to the receive echoes of the radar system. The
maximum receive duty cycle of the instrument is required to be upto 70%.
The continuous data stream after the range extension buffer ,which is
realised in the data sorter is upto 2.016Gbps in the worse case. This is the
range of data which is required to be written into the solid state mass
memory continuously. The solid state mass memory is organised in memory
modules. The necessary number of memory modules is determined by the
maximum input data rate of each memory module and by the required total
mass memory capacity.

Off-line SAR data compression: The average orbit duty cycle for the SAR
instrument is specified to be less than 5%. This means that the instrument is

Dept. of AEI 7 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
switched off 90% of the time and another 5% is reserved for downlink of the
downlink of the data . The off-line SAR data compression or processing shall
be completed during this time, when the instrument is switched off. There
are three different types of data compression-

-Data volume reduction of the over sampled data


The SAR instrument is required to operate with a bandwidth
adjusted to the range resolution. This compression operates lossless and
reduces the data volume according to the actual useful data rate.

-Raw data compression with a BAQ type algorithm


The total range of data is target dependent and very high. Compared
to this the instantaneous range is considerably less. This effect is used for
lossy data reduction. If this technique is used on data in a transform domain,
the properties of the instrument and the SAR processor can be used to
achieve even better compression ratios. This technique can be combined with
the data volume reduction of the over sampled data.

-SAR image processing and compression


The highest compression of SAR data can be achieved when they
are processed to SAR images. Multilooking and very efficient conventional
image compression processes like wavelet compression can be applied.

Mass memory data management and organisation: The allocation of the


SAR data resulting from different data takes and the header data for each
data set has to be managed.

Reformatting and output of compressed data at downlink rate: The SAR


raw data and the SAR header data have to be read out from the mass

Dept. of AEI 8 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
memory, encrypted, packetised and transferred to the data transmission
subsystem.

PROCESSING AND STORAGE ARCHITECTURE

The architecture of the processing and storage subsystem is shown in


fig 5. The digitised raw data enters the subsystem from the left. The data is
assumed to consist of 16 bit complex samples, sampled at a rate which is
higher than (20%)the chirp bandwidth. Hence it is assumed that the
basebanding, demodulation and digitisation have taken place externally to
this subsystem. Digital demodulation could also be performed within the
subsystem. In this case, the input would consist of 8 bit real samples ,with
twice the sampling rate as before. In the figure, the compressed output exits
the subsystem at the right , through a number of t parallel channels.

Fig.5.Generic architecture for P and S subsystem

The various architecture parameters are:

p=no: of input parameters

Dept. of AEI 9 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
q=no: of processing elements in the first MPS
r=no: of processing elements in the second MPS

At the centre of the diagram is located a switch which connects


either the input data lines or one of the agents , located above the switch,
with one of the mass memory banks located below the switch. The agents
generally are the multiprocessor systems (MPS) whose function is execution
of compression algorithms.

One MPS is baseline , shown as the left most agent here, others are
optional. They may be implemented in the event that the memory capacity of
the system is to upscaled.

Fig.6. Switching stages corresponding to different operational modes


of a P and S subsystem

There are three different modes of operation : input mode


processing mode
output mode

Dept. of AEI 10 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
During input mode, the input data channel consisting of p parallel
subchannels is connected to one of the memory banks. Each memory bank
has p input ports which are used simultaneously.

During processing mode, each agent is connected to either one or


two memory banks. Specifically, an agent can be connected to one memory
bank for data input and to another or the same for data output. If multiple
agents and multiple mass memories are present , the agents may process their
respective data simultaneously.

During output mode, the output formatter is connected to one of the


memory banks. The function of the output formatter is to read data , which
has been compressed, from memory, to generate source packets of the
required format and to output these packets over t parallel lines. If p is a
multiple of t ,p=kt, the t channels of the output formatter are reconnected to
the p channels of a memory bank k times . This is done in such a way that
each memory port is connected to one of the output lines once and only once.

Most of the modules in this architecture are easily scalable with


respect to different values of p, q, r...that is a new architecture with different
values of these parameters can be built without redesign of these modules.

Dept. of AEI 11 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

TOPAS ARCHITECTURE

TOPAS stands for the Technology Development of a Space-borne


On-Board SAR-Processor and Storage Demonstrator. In TOPAS architecture
there are two agents-a multiprocessor system and a CWIC (constant rate
wavelet based image compressor).This application specific hardware unit is
employed to compress processed SAR images at high data rate. The
compression ratio is user-specified. Due to the high throughput of this unit,
only one module of CWIC is required.

In more powerful versions of TOPAS architecture for 15MHz


bandwidth, the MPS can be scaled to include 6 to 12 processing elements,
increasing the processing speed of the system accordingly.

Fig.7. Architecture as scaled as in TOPAS

Each memory module in the demonstrator has a capacity of 4Gbits.


This corresponds to about 24 seconds of raw data intake time ,which is
sufficient for demonstration purposes.

Dept. of AEI 12 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System
After the processing and compression of the data obtained by the
SAR on-board, the data is send to the ground station and distributed to the
customers and interpreting organisations.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

ADVANTAGES

1. Operational under all weather conditions with the capabilities for sensing
the earth day and night.
2. Provides description of surface texture.
3. Has own source of illumination
4. Cloud and fog cover are not a problem.
5. Vegetation and subsurface penetration capabilities.

DISADVANTAGES

1. Image distortion
2. Coarse resolution
3. Extensive shadowing of areas characterised with relief.

Dept. of AEI 13 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

APPLICATIONS

SAR Systems has a wide range of applications such as:

1. Observation of volcanic activities and flood disasters.


2. Land and sea monitoring.
3. Observation of vegetarian growth.
4. Monitoring of ocean currents and traveling icebergs.
5. Detection of oil spills in oceans.

Dept. of AEI 14 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

CONCLUSION

Synthetic Aperture Radar is now a well established part of radar art,


both with airborne systems for surveillance and non-cooperative target
identification purposes, and with space-borne systems for geophysical
remote sensing applications over the oceans, land and polar regions. The
capability to operate under all weather conditions make it an efficient sensor.

Dept. of AEI 15 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. R.Zahn,"Innnovative technologies for space-based radars" IEE


Proceedings-Radar Sonar Navigation, vol.150, No:3, June 2003,
pp.104-111.

2. R.Zahn, H.Braumann , "Status of the X-band SAR instrument


demonstrator development", CEOS 99, August 1999.

3. W.Keyedel, "Perspectives and visions for future SAR systems "IEE


Proceedings-Radar Sonar Navigation,vol.150, No:3, June 2003,
pp.97-103.

Dept. of AEI 16 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

ABSTRACT

Synthetic Aperture Radar or SAR is an imaging radar system that


sends a microwave pulse to the surface of the earth and register the
reflections from the earth's surface . On -board processing and compression
of data obtained from the SAR is vital for image formation .The development
of enabling technologies for space-borne SAR instruments have been a major
focus of research and development during the last few years . At present the
SAR systems provides only images and in future it will have to deliver
dedicated information to each special user.

Dept. of AEI 17 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION 1

2. X-BAND SAR INSTRUMENT DEMONSTRATOR 3

3. ON-BOARD PROCESSING FOR SPACE SAR 6

4. PROCESSING AND STORAGE SUBSYSTEM 7

5. PROCESSING AND STORAGE ARCHITECTURE 9

6. TOPAS ARCHITECTURE 12

7. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES 13

8. APPLICATIONS 14

9. CONCLUSION 15

10. BIBLIOGRAPHY 16

Dept. of AEI 18 MESCE Kuttippuram


Seminar Report ’03 Synthetic Aperture Radar
System

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

I extend my sincere gratitude towards Prof. P.Sukumaran Head of


Department for giving us his invaluable knowledge and wonderful technical
guidance.

I express my thanks to Mr. Muhammed Kutty our group tutor and


also to our staff advisor Ms. Biji Paul for their kind co-operation and guidance
for preparing and presenting this seminar.

I also thank all the other faculty members of AEI department and my
friends for their help and support.

Dept. of AEI 19 MESCE Kuttippuram