Ultra Low-Cost Radar

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P. Davies; A. da Silva Curiel; S. Eves; M. Sweeting; A. Thompson; D. Hall (2006), JBIS, 59, 158-166

Refcode: 2006.59.158
Keywords: Small Satellite, Low-Cost, Radar, SAR, DMC

From early 2003, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), together with its partners from Algeria, Nigeria and Turkey, has operated the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). During this period we have demonstrated the utility of a low-cost satellite system that uses optical sensors and is capable of providing daily imaging globally. For example, DMC data has been used operationally in the relief work in Darfur and following the Asian Tsunami. In addition to the use of the DMC to support disasters, the DMC has also been extensively used by the consortium members in support of national imaging needs and some residual system capacity has been provided to commercial customers. In the same timeframe, EADS Astrium Ltd has developed the technologies needed to implement the low-cost radar satellites of the MicroSAR range of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites. EADS Astrium Ltd and SSTL are now looking to combine their expertises in low cost space technology and extend the capability of the DMC constellation by including a complementary small satellite radar sensor. The product of this activity is a satellite design that strikes an appropriate balance between revisit frequency and resolution. Hence, by comparison with other small satellite SAR concepts, the satellite described in this paper will provide broader area coverage at spatial resolutions in the region of 10 - 15m. Most significantly, perhaps, as a result of the specific cost targets imposed at the beginning of the design process, the satellite can provide this level of performance at a lower cost than other comparable space-based radar systems and significantly lower than larger, more performant, space-based radar systems.

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