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Future NASA spaceborne SAR missions

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

1997 / IEEE / 0-7803-4150-3


This item was taken from the IEEE Conference ' Future NASA spaceborne SAR missions ' Two Earth-orbiting radar missions are planned 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. The Spaceborne Imaging Radar C (SIR-C), successfully flown twice in 1994 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, offers a unique opportunity for global multifrequency elevation mapping by the year 2000. The addition of a C-band receive antenna of approximately 60 m length, extended from the Shuttle bay on a mast, and operating in concert with the existing SIR-C antenna, produces an interferometric pair. It is estimated that the 90 percent linear absolute elevation error achievable is less that 16 meters for elevation postings of 30 meters. The SRTM will be the first single-pass spaceborne IFSAR instrument and will produce a near-global high-resolution digital topography data set.