SCIENCE CHINA Information Sciences, Volume 60, Issue 6: 060301(2017) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11432-016-9067-7

Options for continuous radar Earth observations

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  • ReceivedOct 15, 2016
  • AcceptedJan 23, 2017
  • PublishedMay 24, 2017


Near Real Time (minutes or hours) radar imaging of ground targets located anywhere on an hemisphere, with or without interferometric coherence with previous passes, can be obtained with different solutions that are considered here. Geosynchronous systems, from the one proposed in 1978 by Tomiyasu to telecom satellite compatible solutions, and Low, Medium or Geosynchronous Earth Orbit constellations are discussed. Their benefits, problems, and sizes are briefly summarized, and a comparative table is presented. If interferometric coherence is requested, continuous imaging is obtained only if a very wide geostationary aperture is progressively scanned, eventually using a MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) combination of several slow librating small satellites. Instead, fast librating, strip mapping, large geosynchronous satellites do provide high resolution imaging, but interferometry (and thus coherent change detection) is achievable only after a minimum delay of 12 h, i.e., when the target comes in sight without need to squint the antenna. Hence, both complex and simple systems reach full resolution interferometric imaging and thus coherent change detection capability only after 12 h.


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