Development of a Hybrid RF/Laser Radar
Project Award Date: 03-08-1999
In July 2001, NASA will launch ICESat. This satellite will provide data on ice sheet thickness in Greenland and Antarctica using the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS). This system works like a radar, but uses a laser to make its altitude measurements. NASA already has a similar system orbiting Mars.
With this most recent NASA award, Chris Allen and Prasad Gogineni, from the Radar Systems and Remote Sensing Lab (RSL), seek to develop a new class of laser radar with distinct improvements compared to the GLAS system. Their system uses off-the-shelf, advanced fiber optic components and combines radio frequency (RF) pulse compression with digital signal processing to achieve elevation measurements with range accuracies comparable to the GLAS altimeter but at a rate ten times faster. In addition, the peak power of the laser used in their system is orders of magnitude less than those used in GLAS resulting in a significant increase in laser reliability.
"The early stages of the project already are showing good results," says Allen, who is RSL's director. He believes the project will offer many improvements over GLAS, such as reduced size, less power consumption, and sensor flexibility-which translate to greater efficiency and costs savings. This project represents the first of many that combine fiber optic technology with radar remote sensing systems.
Primary Sponsor(s): NASA