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Instrument Demonstrations

International Polar Year Ka-Band Radar Interferometer

IPY Ka-band antenna mounted on UAVSAR antenna panel
IPY Ka-band antenna mounted on UAVSAR antenna panel.
A demonstration of Ka-band interferometric measurement of ice surface topography is being developed in support of the International Polar Year (IPY) . The airborne demonstration will integrate two Ka-band antennas, along with up and down converters, into the UAVSAR synthetic aperture radar aboard the NASA Gulfstream III. The demonstration will utilize the back-end RF, data collection and processing system of UAVSAR while providing exciting new measurement capabilities. Data collected during this demonstration will be used to study phenomenology of scattering and interferometric measurement of ice sheets and glaciers. Knowledge gained from this experiment will aid in the design, development and calibration of future spaceborne ice topography sensors.

Airborne Precipitation Radar 2 (APR-2)

The APR-2 is a dual-frequency airborne precipitation radar that can be deployed on NASA’s DC-8 and P-3 research aircraft. This radar uses Ku-band (13.4 GHz) and Ka-band (35.6 GHz) with a nadir-looking, cross track scanning antenna to make high-resolution three-dimensional images of the structure of precipitation. The system also has dual-polarization receive capability at both frequencies allowing the measurement of linear depolarization ratio, which is useful for classification of hydrometeor. Fully coherent operation enables collection of Doppler velocity measurements in addition to reflectivity.


APR-2 velocity and velocity and reflectivity slice images take from 3D volumetric data
APR-2 velocity and velocity and reflectivity slice images take from 3D volumetric data.

Ka-Band Surface Water Radar

Leveraging hardware originally developed to demonstrate technology for the Mars Science Laboratory, we have developed a system for studying near-nadir backscatter of surface water at Ka-band. Study of the backscatter vs. near-nadir incidence angles at various wind speeds over rivers and lakes will improve the design of a future spaceborne Ka-band interferometric surface water sensor such as that for the SWOT (Surface Water Ocean Topography) mission. The SWOT mission was recommended by the National Research Council’s Earth Science Decadal Survey.

Ka-band radar deployed on a bridge
Ka-band radar deployed on a bridge.
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