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Future NASA spaceborne SAR missions

By: Yuhsyen Shen; Imel, D.; Freeman, A.; Stuhr, F.V.; Hilland, J.E.; Caro, E.R.; Jordan, R.L.;

1998 / IEEE


This item was taken from the IEEE Periodical ' Future NASA spaceborne SAR missions ' Two Earth-orbiting radar missions are planned for the near future by NASA-Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) and LightSAR. The SRTM will fly aboard the Shuttle using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (IFSAR) to provide a global digital elevation map. SRTM is jointly sponsored by NASA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA). The LightSAR will utilize emerging technology to reduce mass and life-cycle costs for a mission to acquire SAR data for Earth science and civilian applications and to establish commercial utility. LightSAR is sponsored by NASA and industry partners. The use of IFSAR to measure elevation is one of the most powerful and practical applications of radar. A properly equipped spaceborne IFSAR system can produce a highly accurate global digital elevation map, including cloud-covered areas, in significantly less time and at significantly lower cost than other systems. For accurate topography over a large area, the interferometric measurements can be performed simultaneously in physically separate receive systems. Since LightSAR offers important benefits to both the science community and US industry, an innovative government-industry teaming approach is being explored, with industry sharing the cost of developing LightSAR in return for commercial rights to its data and operational responsibility. LightSAR will enable mapping of surface change. The instrument's high-resolution mapping, along with its quad polarization, dual polarization, interferometric and ScanSAR modes will enable continuous monitoring of natural hazards, Earth's surface deformation, surface vegetation change, and ocean mesoscale features to provide commercially viable and scientifically valuable data products. Advanced microelectronics and lightweight materials will increase LightSAR's functionality without increasing the mass. Dual frequency L/X-band designs have been examined.