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The Impact of Multipath on High-Resolution SAS Image Statistics

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3 Author(s)
Johnson, S.F. ; Appl. Phys. Lab., Johns Hopkins Univ., Laurel, MD, USA ; Lyons, A.P. ; Abraham, D.A.

As with traditional sonar, synthetic aperture sonar (SAS) is susceptible to multipath contamination, reducing the quality and also modifying the statistics of the image. Such multipath contaminants may either be environmentally induced, as is often the case when attempting to image ranges greater than the water depth resulting in returns from the boundaries, or may be induced by the system's supporting structure itself. A clear understanding of such statistical impact is necessary to advance synthetic aperture formation algorithms and for predicting system performance. Broadband acoustic data suitable for SAS processing collected with a rail-mounted mobile-tower as part of the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR)-funded Sediment Acoustics eXperiment 2004 (SAX04) are analyzed in this paper. Analysis focused on both system structure and environmentally induced multipath using the K -distribution shape parameter as a metric. High-resolution sonar imagery often exhibited significantly non-Rayleigh, heavy-tailed envelope statistics, characterized by a low equivalent K-distribution shape parameter. Analysis showed a clear and significant increase in the estimated shape parameter in the presence of multipath, representing a trend toward a Rayleigh-distributed envelope. A model for reverberation is presented to provide bounds of the statistical impact using observable image intensity level increases in synthetic-aperture-formed images caused by multipath contamination. This model further shows potential for statistical impact when multipath arrivals are of similar level as the direct path even when not observable in the image (e.g., within 10 dB).

Published in:

Oceanic Engineering, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 4 )