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The paper considers synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and other synthetic aperture imaging systems in which a backscattered wave is measured from positions along an arbitrary (known) flight path. The received backscattered signals are used to produce an image of the terrain. We assume a single-scattering model for the radar data, and we assume that the ground topography is known but not necessarily flat. We focus on cases in which the antenna footprint is so large that the standard narrow-beam algorithms are not useful. We show that certain artifacts can be avoided if the antenna and antenna footprint avoid particular relationships with the ground topography. We give an explicit backprojection imaging algorithm that corrects for the ground topography, flight path, antenna beam pattern, source waveform, and other geometrical factors. For the case of a non-directional antenna, the image produced by the above algorithm contains artifacts. For this case, we analyze the strength of the artifacts relative to the strength of the true image. The analysis shows that the artifacts can be somewhat suppressed by increasing the frequency, integration time, and the curvature of the flight path.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2003