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A new concept of spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) implementation has recently been proposed - the constellation of small spaceborne SAR systems. In this implementation, several formation-flying small satellites cooperate to perform multiple space missions. We investigate the possibility to produce high-resolution wide-area SAR images and fine ground moving-target indicator (GMTI) performance with constellation of small spaceborne SAR systems. In particular, we focus on the problems introduced by this particular SAR system, such as Doppler ambiguities, high sparseness of the satellite array, and array element errors. A space-time adaptive processing (STAP) approach combined with conventional SAR imaging algorithms is proposed which can solve these problems to some extent. The main idea of the approach is to use a STAP-based method to properly overcome the aliasing effect caused by the lower pulse-repetition frequency (PRF) and thereby retrieve the unambiguous azimuth wide (full) spectrum signals from the received echoes. Following this operation, conventional SAR data processing tools can be applied to focus the SAR images fully. The proposed approach can simultaneously achieve both high-resolution SAR mapping of wide ground scenes and GMTI with high efficiency. To obtain array element errors, an array auto-calibration technique is proposed to estimate them based on the angular and Doppler ambiguity analysis of the clutter echo. The optimizing of satellite formations is also analyzed, and a platform velocity/PRF criterion for array configurations is presented. An approach is given to make it possible that almost any given sparse array configuration can satisfy the criterion by slightly adjusting the PRF. Simulated results are presented to verify the effectiveness of the proposed approaches.
Aerospace and Electronic Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:42 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: April 2006