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Aerospace and Defense Channel / Industry News

Paper on advanced satellite imaging radar to receive 2012 IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award

July 11, 2012
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A paper describing the conceptual design and technology behind the TanDEM-X satellite system for mapping the Earth’s topography with high resolution and high accuracy, authored by a team of researchers from the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, is being honored by IEEE with the 2012 IEEE W.R.G. Baker Award. IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional association.

The award, sponsored by the IEEE Circuits and Systems, IEEE Communications, IEEE Control Systems, IEEE Information Theory, IEEE Power & Energy, IEEE Signal Processing and IEEE Vehicular Technology Societies and given to the most outstanding paper reporting original work published in any IEEE archival publications from 2007 through the end of 2009, recognizes the paper “TanDEM-X: A Satellite Formation for High-Resolution SAR Interferometry,” which appeared in the November 2007 issue of the IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (vol. 45, no. 11, Part 1, pp. 3317–3341). The paper was authored by Gerhard Krieger, Alberto Moreira, Hauke Fiedler, Irena Hajnsek, Marian Werner, Marwan Younis and Manfred Zink. The award will be presented on July 23, 2012 at the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Munich, Germany.

Providing a detailed analysis of the TanDEM-X radar interferometer, the paper by Krieger and his co-authors has highly impacted synthetic aperture radar (SAR) theory and technology with implications for many areas of geoscience. The TanDEM-X (which stands for TerraSAR-X add-on for Digital Elevation Measurement) mission was proposed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) as an innovative space-borne system for providing highly accurate digital elevation measurements of the Earth’s topography. Digital elevation measurements are important for many geoscience applications including hydrology, glaciology, forestry and geology where timely and accurate data are necessary for monitoring changes in the Earth’s surface. This information is also needed for more precise navigation in GPS systems.

By placing two satellites in a close-orbit configuration and using innovative radar techniques, the TanDEM-X system has been able to achieve unprecedented accuracy, overcoming the limitations of other air- or spaceborne sensors that use repeat-pass interferometry and are hampered by atmospheric disturbances. The TanDEM-X satellite (a practical twin of the previously launched TerraSAR-X satellite) was launched in June 2010 and was placed in close formation with TerraSAR-X in October 2010. In December 2010, the two satellites began operating in bistatic mode to provide absolute vertical and horizontal accuracy better than 10 meters. The relative vertical accuracy is better than 2 m.

Published prior to the mission launch, the paper provides an overview of the mission as well as examples of the new imaging modes and potential applications. The authors discuss TanDEM-X innovations including orbit selection, multiple data acquisition modes and a synchronization system for bistatic operation based on relative phase referencing using dedicated horn antennas. The authors also detail the interferometric performance analysis of bistatic SAR data acquisition obtained from multiple baselines. Additional results from this work include the development of advanced techniques that will form the basis of future high-resolution wide-swath SAR systems.

An IEEE Senior Member, Krieger received his master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical and communications engineering from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is currently the head of the Radar Concepts Department with the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

An IEEE Fellow, Moreira received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the Aeronautical Institute of Technology, São José dos Campos, Brazil, and a doctorate in engineering from the Technical University of Munich, Germany. He is currently the Director of the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany as well as Full Professor with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany, in the field of microwave remote sensing.

Fiedler received his master’s degree in physics and doctorate in astronomy from the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany, and his master’s degree in space system engineering from the Technical University of Delft, The Netherlands. He is currently the head of the Space Situational Awareness Team with the German Aerospace Center’s GSOC, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

An IEEE Senior Member, Hajnsek received her master’s degree from the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and doctorate from the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany. She is currently Professor of the Earth Observation Chair at the Environmental Engineering Institute of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland and head of the Polarimetric SAR Interferometry Group with the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Werner received master’s degrees in communications engineering from the University of Applied Sciences, Munich, Germany, and in electrical engineering and microwave technology from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. He is currently a scientist with the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

An IEEE Senior Member, Younis received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Baghdad, Iraq, and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany. He is currently a research scientist with the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

Zink received his master’s degree in physics from the Technical University of Graz, Austria, and doctorate in engineering from the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He is currently head of the Satellite SAR Systems Department with the German Aerospace Center’s Microwaves and Radar Institute, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.

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