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Geometric distortions in FMCW SAR images due to inaccurate knowledge of electronic radar parameters: analysis and correction by means of corner reflectors

Esposito, C., Natale, A., Palmese, G., Berardino, P., Perna, S.
Remote sensing of environment 2019 v.232 pp. 111289
airplanes, algorithms, altitude, data collection, geometry, helicopters, image analysis, remote sensing, synthetic aperture radar
In the last years the Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) technology has been playing an ever greater role in the realization of compact, light and cheap Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems to be mounted onboard small, low altitude platforms such as airplanes, helicopters and drones.To correctly focus FMCW SAR images, it is necessary to accurately know some system parameters, including the frequency sweep rate of the signal transmitted by the radar. It may happen, however, that this frequency sweep rate is not very accurately measured by the radar provider, and thus an incorrect value of this parameter is used during the SAR data focusing procedure. This may produce serious geometric distortion effects in the focused FMCW SAR images. To circumvent these problems, in this work we present a procedure that estimates the frequency sweep rate actually employed by the FMCW radar, thus providing a key information that can be then profitably used to achieve the correct focusing of the SAR data acquired by the radar system at hand. More specifically, we propose an algorithm that exploits on one side the focused SAR images corrupted by the geometric distortion effects induced by the inaccurate knowledge of this radar parameter, and on the other side the very precise in-situ measurements of the positions of a limited number of Corner Reflectors (CRs) properly deployed over the observed scene.The effectiveness of the proposed algorithm has been tested on real data acquired by an airborne X-band FMCW SAR system.