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Theory and simulation of ionospheric effects on synthetic aperture radar

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date10/2009
JournalIET Radar Sonar and Navigation
Number of pages11
Original languageEnglish


Space-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR) necessarily involves imaging through the ionosphere. At low frequencies (VHF, UHF and L-band) the ionosphere will degrade the SAR image. Previous work has shown that the amount of image degradation strongly depends on the integrated strength of ionospheric turbulence, C k L. The focusing, sidelobes and integrated sidelobe ratio all depend on C k L in a manner that can be directly predicted by a simple analytic theory, which is reviewed and extended to cover any synthetic aperture length. Simulations of the ionosphere, using a thin phase screen parabolic equation approach, are performed under different ionospheric conditions for a number of possible SAR systems and the results compared with the analytic theory. It is concluded that, provided that the scattering is weak, the theory represents a good predictor of SAR performance, even at UHF. The known statistics of C k L can therefore be used to predict the performance of any trans-ionospheric SAR without performing a simulation.