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Due to a system-inherent limitation, conventional synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is incapable of imaging a wide swath with high geometric resolution. This restriction can be overcome by systems with multiple receive channels in combination with an additional digital signal processing network. So far, the application of such digital beamforming algorithms for high-resolution wide-swath SAR imaging has been restricted to multichannel systems in stripmap operation. However, in stripmap mode, the overall azimuth antenna length restricts the achievable swath width, thus preventing very wide swaths as requested by future SAR missions. Consequently, new concepts for ultrawide-swath imaging are needed. A promising candidate is a SAR system with multiple azimuth channels being operated in burst mode. This paper analyzes innovative ScanSAR and Terrain Observation by Progressive Scans (TOPS) system concepts with regard to multichannel azimuth processing. For this, the theoretical analyses, performance figures, and SAR signal processing, which had previously been derived for multichannel stripmap mode, are extended to systems operating in burst modes. The investigations reveal that multichannel ScanSAR systems enable the imaging of ultrawide swaths with high azimuth resolution and compact antenna lengths. These considerations are embedded in a multichannel ScanSAR system design example to demonstrate its capability to image an ultrawide swath of 400 km with a high geometric resolution of 5 m. In a next step, this system is adapted to TOPS mode operation, including an innovative “staircase” multichannel processing approach optimized for TOPS.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:48 , Issue: 7 )
Date of Publication: July 2010