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Gross Errors in Height Indication from Pulsed Radar Altimeters Operating over Thick Ice or Snow

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2 Author(s)
Waite, A.H. ; U. S. Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory, Fort Monmouth, N.J. ; Schmidt, S.J.

Errors reported in 1946 by aircraft pilots using pulsed radar altimeters over Antarctic ice, coupled wih results of radio-wave propagation studies in both polar areas (1946-1955), led to measurements of the electrical characteristics of thick ice at high and ultra-high frequencies. These measurements produced information relative to dielectric constants, loss factors, scattering, and interface reflection data that subsequently permitted successful radio-wave penetration measurements in continental ice to depth of several hundred feet in both the Antarctic and the Arctic (1958-1960). Results indicated clearly that low-flying pilots relying on pulsed 440-Mc altimeters in poor visibility over thick ice can be fatally misled by errors inherent in these instruments. The paper presents recent data obtained by the Signal Corps pertinent to radio-wave transparency of thick ice and snow.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 6 )