Definition: Synthetic Aperture Radar
Synthetic Aperture Radar
Synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) is an active microwave remote sensing technology that measures the phase difference between a radar wave emitted from an antennae attached to a satellite or aircraft to generate high-resolution images of a surface.
- Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a form of radar that is used to create images of objects, such as landscapes – these images can be either two or three dimensional representations of the object. SAR uses the motion of the radar antenna over a targeted region to provide finer spatial resolution than is possible with conventional beam-scanning radars. SAR is typically mounted on a moving platform such as an aircraft or spacecraft, and has its origins in an advanced form of side-looking airborne radar (SLAR). The distance the SAR device travels over a target in the time taken for the radar pulses to return to the antenna creates the large "synthetic" antenna aperture (the "size" of the antenna). As a rule of thumb, the larger the aperture is, the higher the image resolution will be, regardless of whether the aperture is physical (a large antenna) or 'synthetic' (a moving antenna) – this allows SAR to create high resolution images with comparatively small physical antennas.To create a SAR image, successive pulses of radio waves are transmitted to "illuminate" a target scene, and the echo of each pulse is received and recorded. The pulses are transmitted and the echoes received using a single beam-forming antenna, with wavelengths of a meter down to several millimeters. As the SAR device on board the aircraft or spacecraft moves, the antenna location relative to the target changes with time. Signal processing of the successive recorded radar echoes allows the combining of the recordings from these multiple antenna positions – this process forms the 'synthetic antenna aperture', and allows the creation of higher resolution images than would otherwise be possible with a given physical antenna.Current (2010) airborne systems provide resolutions of about 10 cm, ultra-wideband systems provide resolutions of a few millimeters, and experimental terahertz SAR has provided sub-millimeter resolution in the laboratory.SAR images have wide applications in remote sensing and mapping of the surfaces of both the Earth and other planets. SAR can also be implemented as inverse SAR by observing a moving target over a substantial time with a stationary antenna.
- Also Known As
- Related Terms
- Synthetic Aperature Radar: Systems and Signal Processing (Curlander and McDonough - 1991 - book)