Tandem-L: A Technical Perspective on Future Spaceborne SAR Sensors for Earth Observation

Huber S, De Almeida FQ, Villano M, Younis M, Krieger G, Moreira A (2018)

Publication Language: English

Publication Type: Journal article, Review article

Publication year: 2018


Publisher: IEEE - Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Book Volume: 56

Pages Range: 4792-4807

URI: https://elib.dlr.de/126294/

DOI: 10.1109/TGRS.2018.2837673


Tandem-L is proposed as a spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) mission developed and operated by the German Aerospace Center in cooperation with several Helmholtz research centers and the German space industries. The mission concept comprises two fully polarimetric radar satellites providing monostatic and bistatic SAR imagery. A key feature of these SAR sensors is the employment of large lightweight unfurlable mesh reflectors fed by digital feed arrays. The main advantage of this new SAR system concept is the provision of large antenna apertures in space and flexible operation via reconfigurable feed electronics. By this, it becomes possible to map, for the first time, a continuous 350-km wide swath with a 7-m azimuth resolution with excellent noise equivalent sigma zero and ambiguity suppression. This paper shall give an overview on the technical aspects of the Tandem-L SAR instrument and antenna design. In particular, after a short review of the SAR system requirements, the concept of reflector SAR systems is outlined and the operation principle is presented. General guidelines for the design of array-fed reflector antennas with application to SAR imaging are given. Then, the optimization approach of the feed array design is detailed with a specific emphasis on a fixed beamforming concept in azimuth. In this context, also the problem of cross-pol pattern mitigation is addressed. These optimization steps are shown to be crucial for achieving the performance requirements in quad-pol acquisitions. Beamforming in elevation is performed onboard the spacecraft via digital hardware. This paper presents the beamforming architecture on receive for Tandem-L, which would apply in general for instance also to planar multielevation beam SAR antennas with Scan-On-Receive capabilities. Tandem-L is operated as a staggered SAR, which means varying the pulse repetition interval from pulse to pulse. In this context, the major design challenges are presented. Moreover, the impact of pulse staggering on the imaging performance is discussed. Tandem-L's SAR performance is presented by means of numerical simulations showing that the performance requirements imposed by the scientific user community could be met. The final part of this paper addresses options for high azimuth resolution imaging as well as a beamforming method for enhanced range ambiguity suppression.

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Huber, S., De Almeida, F.Q., Villano, M., Younis, M., Krieger, G., & Moreira, A. (2018). Tandem-L: A Technical Perspective on Future Spaceborne SAR Sensors for Earth Observation. IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing, 56, 4792-4807. https://doi.org/10.1109/TGRS.2018.2837673


Huber, Sigurd, et al. "Tandem-L: A Technical Perspective on Future Spaceborne SAR Sensors for Earth Observation." IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing 56 (2018): 4792-4807.

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