Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar

UAVSAR, a reconfigurable, polarimetric L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), is specifically designed to acquire airborne repeat track SAR data for differential interferometric measurements.

Differential interferometry can provide key deformation measurements, and is important for studies of earthquakes, volcanoes and other dynamically changing phenomena.

Using precision real-time GPS and a sensor controlled flight management system, the system can fly predefined paths with great precision (to be within a 10 m diameter tube about the desired flight track).

The radar is designed to be operable on a UAV (Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle), but will initially be demonstrated on a NASA Gulfstream III. The radar is fully polarimetric, with a range bandwidth of 80 MHz (2 m range resolution), and a range swath greater than 16 km.

The antenna may be electronically steered along track to assure that the antenna beam can be directed independently, regardless of speed and wind direction.

Other features supported by the antenna include elevation monopulse and pulse-to-pulse re-steering capabilities that will enable some novel modes of operation. The system will nominally operate at 41,000 ft (13800 m).

The program began as an Instrument Incubator Project (IIP) funded by NASA Earth Science Technology Office (ESTO). Since 2018, UAVSAR facility instrument suite has been enhanced with two additional bands: P-band (AirMOSS) and Ka-band (GLISTIN-A). The P-band capability was originally added in 2012 to support the EVS-1 AirMOSS mission to observe sub-canopy and subsurface root zone soil moisture. The modification was accomplished by replacing UAVSAR's L-band front-end electronics and antenna with components that operate at P-band (420-440 MHz). The Ka-band single-pass interferometric SAR capability (GLISTIN-A) was added through NASA's Advanced Instrument Technology Transition program (AITT). The horizontally polarized GLISTIN-A (35.62-35.70 GHz) instrument generates high-precision, high resolution, large-swath digital surface models for ice surface topography mapping.

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RC-10 Mapping Cameras

Wild Heerbrugg RC-10 Mapping Cameras with a 9 x 9 inch image format are flown on virtually every ER-2 earth imaging mission. The RC-10s may be employed with six or twelve inch focal length lenses providing image scales of two miles to the inch and one mile to the inch respectively. RC-10 mounting stations include the ER-2 Q-bay, nose pod and the right and left wing pods.

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Miniature Video Imaging System

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MODIS Airborne Simulator

The MODIS Airborne Simulator (MAS) is a multispectral scanner configured to approximate the Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), an instrument to be orbited on the NASA EOS-AM1 platform. MODIS is designed to measure terrestrial and atmospheric processes. The MAS was a joint project of Daedalus Enterprises, Berkeley Camera Engineering, and Ames Research Center. The MODIS Airborne Simulator records fifty spectral bands.

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MODIS/ASTER Airborne Simulator

The MASTER is similar to the MAS, with the thermal bands modified to more closely match the NASA EOS ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) satellite instrument, which was launched in 1998. It is intended primarily to study geologic and other Earth surface properties. Flying on both high and low altitude aircraft, the MASTER has been operational since early 1998.

Instrument Type: Multispectral Imager
Measurements: VNIR/SWIR/MWIR/LWIR Imagery

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HyMap

The HyMap scanner, built by Integrated Spectronics Inc of Sydney, Australia, has four spectrometers in the interval 0.45 to 2.45 micrometers excluding the two major atmospheric water absorption windows. The bandwidths are not constant, but vary between 15 and 18 nanometers. The scanner also has an on-board bright source calibration system, which is used to monitor the stability of the signal. The signal/noise ratio measured outside the aircraft with a sun angle of 30° and a 50% reflectance standard is more than 500/1 except near the major atmospheric water absorption bands. The scanner is mounted on a hydraulically actuated Zeiss-Jena SM 2000 stabilized platform. The platform provides +/- 5 degrees of pitch and roll correction. The yaw can be offset by +/- 20 degrees with +/- 8 degrees of stabilization. The platform provides a residual error in nadir pointing of less than 1 degree and reduces aircraft motion effects by a factor ranging from 10:1 to 30:1.

The basic HyMap specifications are:

IFOV: 2.5 mr along track, 2.0 mr across track (Spatial resolution 3.5–10 m)
FOV: 62 degrees (512 pixels)

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Leonardo Airborne Simulator

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Cloud Particle Imager

The CPI records high-resolution (2.3 micron pixel size) digital images of particles that pass through the sample volume at speeds up to 200 m/s. In older models, CCD camera flashes up to 75 frames per second (fps), potentially imaging more than 25 particles per frame. More recent camera upgrades capable of bringing frame rate to nearly 500 fps. Real time image processing crops particle images from the full frame, eliminating blank space and compressing data by >1000:1. CPI is designed for ummanned use, with AI parameters to optimize performance without supervision.

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Digital Mapping System

The Digital Mapping System (DMS) is an airborne digital camera system that acquires high resolution natural color and panchromatic imagery from low and medium altitude research aircraft. The DMS includes an Applanix Position and Orientation system to allow precision image geo-rectification. Data acquired by DMS are used by a variety of scientific programs to monitor variation in environmental conditions, assess global change, and respond to natural disasters.

Mission data are processed and archived by the Airborne Sensor Facility (ASF) located at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. DMS imagery from Operation IceBridge are archived at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, CO.

Instrument Type: Canon/Zeiss Camera with IMU/GPS
Measurements: 21-Mpixel natural color Imagery

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Digital Camera System

DCS is a 16-megapixel color infrared digital camera system, providing high resolution imagery for mission tracking purposes Geo-referenced image products may be generated, when used in conjunction with a POS-AV system.

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