A Low-Cost Laboratory-Based Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar System for Scattering Analysis [Education Corner]

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Research Article

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IEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine


A low cost laboratory-based polarimetric synthetic aperture radar (PolSAR) that captures the basic scattering mechanisms using radar calibration targets, such as a flat plate and dihedral and trihedral corner reflectors is proposed. The calibration of the instrument is done using a square trihedral that has a well-defined RCS. The same transformation is used for all of the captured images, and the result for the dihedral is validated with theoretical values of RCS. The validation data is off by about 3 and 4.5 dBsm from the theoretical values of RCS for dihedral for the VV and HH channel calibration, respectively. The scattering matrices calculated directly from the received power signal show that this low-cost instrument can distinguish the basic scattering mechanisms. Using this instrument, researchers can record and distinguish objects based on polarimetric characteristics that are usually done by extremely costly and sophisticated PolSAR instruments. The four cans that are used as antennas are considered identical with the same radiation pattern and loss, which in reality is not true. To improve the accuracy of the instrument, one can determine the antenna’s radiation pattern and gain for each of the four cans used. This can be performed using a source antenna illuminating the test antenna with a plane wave from a specific direction. This system can be used for phenomenology studies, and it can be also be used with other modes of imaging.

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