L. Marchese, M. Doucet, B. Harnish, M., Suess, P. Bourqui, M. Legros, N. Desnoyers, L. Guillot, L, Merciera, S. Maxime, A. Martel, F. Châteauneuf, A. Bergeron "Real-time optical processor prototype for remote SAR applications" Proc. of SPIE, 7477, art. no. 74771H , 2009
Résumé: A Compact Real-Time Optical SAR Processor has been successfully developed and tested. SAR, or Synthetic Aperture Radar, is a powerful tool providing enhanced day and night imaging capabilities. SAR systems typically generate large amounts of information generally in the form of complex data that are difficult to compress. Specifically, for planetary missions and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems with limited communication data rates this is a clear disadvantage. SAR images are typically processed electronically applying dedicated Fourier transformations. This, however, can also be performed optically in real-time. Indeed, the first SAR images have been optically processed. The optical processor architecture provides inherent parallel computing capabilities that can be used advantageously for the SAR data processing. Onboard SAR image generation would provide local access to processed information paving the way for real-time decision-making. This could eventually benefit navigation strategy and instrument orientation decisions. Moreover, for interplanetary missions, onboard analysis of images could provide important feature identification clues and could help select the appropriate images to be transmitted to Earth, consequently helping bandwidth management. This could ultimately reduce the data throughput requirements and related transmission bandwidth. This paper reviews the design of a compact optical SAR processor prototype that would reduce power, weight, and size requirements and reviews the analysis of SAR image generation using the table-top optical processor. Various SAR processor parameters such as processing capabilities, image quality (point target analysis), weight and size are reviewed. Results of image generation from simulated point targets as well as real satellite-acquired raw data are presented.
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