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Ray-Tracing Simulation Techniques for Understanding High-Resolution SAR Images

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3 Author(s)
Stefan Auer ; Remote Sensing Technology, Technische Universität München, München, Germany ; Stefan Hinz ; Richard Bamler

In this paper, a simulation concept is presented for creating synthetic aperture radar (SAR) reflectivity maps based on ray tracing. Three-dimensional models of man-made objects are illuminated by a virtual SAR sensor whose signal is approximated by rays sent through the model space. To this end, open-source software tools are adapted and extended to derive output data in SAR geometry followed by creating the reflectivity map. Rays can be followed for multiple reflections within the object scene. Signals having different multiple reflection levels are stored in separate image layers. For evaluating the potentials and limits of the simulation approach, simulated reflectivity maps and distribution maps are compared with real TerraSAR-X images for various complex man-made objects like a skyscraper in Tokyo, the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The results show that the simulation can provide very valuable information to interpret complex SAR images or to predict the reflectivity of planned SAR image acquisitions.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing  (Volume:48 ,  Issue: 3 )