NASA Contracts IAI to Continue Developing Scalable Architectures for Distributed Beam-Forming Synthetic Aperture Radar

Conventional Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operates in the Stripmap mode, by imaging a strip of ground that has potentially unlimited extent in its direction of motion, but is limited in the orthogonal range direction. Wide unambiguous swath coverage and high azimuth resolution pose contradictory requirements on the design of SAR systems. To overcome the fundamental limitations of conventional SAR systems, IAI will continue to develop the Scalable Architectures for Distributed Beam-Forming Synthetic Aperture Radar (DBSAR) tool. This tool uses the promising technique of Digital Beam-Forming (DBF) on receive, where the receiving antenna is split into multiple sub-apertures. The received signals from each sub-aperture element can be separately amplified, down-converted, and digitized, providing the capability of forming multiple beams via post-processing. DBF techniques applied to SAR systems can increase receiving antenna gain without a reduction of the imaged area, and can suppress interference signals. IAI’s highly capable DBSAR instrument design consists of a wideband Transmitter-Receiver Module (TRM), precise multi-channel timing and synchronization, and a reconfigurable processing engine that can host the SAR processing, calibration and control routines. IAI’s approach is modular and scalable, and meets NASA’s goals of developing an innovative hardware design for the implementation of distributed DBSAR architectures.