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SAMI: a low-frequency prototype for mapping and imaging of the seabed by means of synthetic aperture

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4 Author(s)
Chatillon, J. ; CNRS, Ecole Superieure de Chimie Phys., Villeurbanne, France ; Adams, A.E. ; Lawlor, M.A. ; Zakharia, M.E.

The objective of the Synthetic Aperture Mapping and Imaging (SAMI) project was to develop and to test at sea a wide-band synthetic aperture sonar prototype, capable of providing high-resolution seafloor images together with bathymetry maps. This system used the motion of a physically small array in order to synthesize a longer array, providing images with an across-track resolution independent of both range and transmit frequency. Such systems are clearly very relevant to the high-precision long-range (low-frequency) imaging of the sea bottom. The project has led to the construction of a prototype tested at sea on several well-known areas for comparison with existing images and maps. These areas included several types of sea bottom, depths, and geological structures. The results obtained in real time, on-board ship, have shown the relevance of the proposed wide-band techniques. The many profiles produced have provided high-resolution images and maps of various seafloors. Interpretation by geologists showed that the system was capable of providing the same or finer detail than a deep-sea short-range, high-frequency system and maintained a higher resolution over a wider swath. The sea data processed have shown that the system provided maps with a cubic meter voxel. The resolution cell is constant over the whole range (50 to 2500 m) thanks to the dynamic focusing of the synthetic aperture. Postprocessing of a part of the data stored during the experiments has been carried out in the laboratory. This work has shown that techniques such as autofocusing can give an increase in resolution (i.e., gain in contrast and resolution of about 3 dB). The results displayed in the paper show the relevance of the techniques developed to the provision of a complete high-performance imaging tool for the oceanographic community

Published in:

Oceanic Engineering, IEEE Journal of  (Volume:24 ,  Issue: 1 )