The world’s first dual-band, fully digital Synthetic Aperture Radar (“SAR”) technology
UrtheCast has developed a highly capable, fully digital, modular, low cost, multi-aperture, multi-frequency Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload called SAR-XL by leveraging fast-moving FPGA technology and applying our SAR systems engineering expertise and hardware design knowhow.
SAR-XL is an entirely new generation of SAR technology that has led to 10 patents being filed with more on the way. Development of the core technology has included the build of several prototypes and breadboards to demonstrate the feasibility and is now culminating in the build and test of a flight representative Engineering Model (EM) of the SAR-XL payload.
SAR operates by transmitting RF pulses and receiving the echos to form the imagery. It can therefore operate day or night and can see through clouds, smoke or fog.
Simultaneous X & L band provides unprecedented information content and utility
X-band provides high resolution (<1 m) and reflects off the top of vegetation, while the longer wavelength L-band penetrates through vegetation and into the soil. Together this provides tremendous information about the ground cover and can detect objects not visible to X-band only.
Modular dual band phased array antenna
The dual band antenna is made up of a number of identical panels where each can be an independent aperture and each has 14 phase centres for X-band and 14 for L-band (this can also be increased). It has exceptional cross polarization performance and very low loss. The L-band is capable of the full set of different polarizations including Circular, Quad-pol and Quad-circular.
Fully Digital SAR electronics
The SAR-XL instrument is fully controlled digitally (via FPGA’s) and can be fully reconfigured on-orbit to create all kinds of different beam modes. This gives the ability to create specialty beam modes customized for a particular application and adjusting these beam modes after field trials. This is a highly configurable instrument.
Have developed and demonstrated the capability to perform realtime on-board processing of the SAR data to enable generating a focused image and performing realtime object detection. Capable of downloading only the detected objects.
Using the onboard processing and the ability to steer the beams in both X & L band, can perform wide swath maritime surveillance using L-band ScanSAR and in realtime process the data onboard and then automatically detect objects and create X-band spot beams to image each detected object in high resolution within seconds.
Fully flexible waveform generation for the RADAR pulse allows information to be encoded into the pulse. This enables using the large SAR antenna to perform both imaging and downlinking the data to a small portable ground terminal at the same time.