SAR-XL

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.

Features
Benefits
Active Sensor
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 (
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.
Onboard processing
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.
Advanced Applications
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.

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.

Features
Benefits
Active Sensor
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 (
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.
Onboard processing
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.
Advanced Applications
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.

The technology comprises the dual band antenna panels which have in integrated corporate feed system, the digital RF electronics (DRFU) the Transmit/Receive Modules (TRM’s) which mount to the back of each SAR-XL panel, and the Antenna Interface and Control Unit (AICU) and the on-board SAR Processing Unit which mount inside the spacecraft bus.  The AICU serves as the payload computer configuring the instrument for the commanded beam mode and manages the data flow (e.g., send the data to the bus onboard mass memory unit for later downlink). The SPU, when activated, will take the raw data from the AICU and process this data onboard, and perform the automated object detection and issue the commands to eth AICU for creating the needed X-band spotlight beam to image the detected objects.  This all happens in realtime with eth X-band image of the object occurring about 1 second after it was imaged by the lower resolution L-band ScanSAR. 

The antenna, DRFU and AICU were all designed in house at UrtheCast and highly experienced suppliers are used to build the hardware. The antenna manufacturing approach is highly specialized and this was optimized through an iterative process of building several prototypes prior to the build of the flight representative EM panels.  The TRM’s were developed together with the RF equipment supplier who has high expertise in the RF hardware. All firmware and software was developed in house at UrtheCast this included demonstrations of the on-processing firmware on development boards that have the desired FPGA.  

In addition to the hardware and software/firmware expertise, UrtheCast has significant SAR systems engineering expertise. A unique SAR system engineering tool was developed to support the development of the specific beam modes and determining optimized parameters (such as PRF’s, etc.) and then calculating the expected SAR performance (e.g., NESZ, Ambiguity Ratios) as well as the power consumption and data rates. This tool includes all of the measured performance metrics from the ground testing such as the measured beam pattern, losses in different units, etc.

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