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Vapor In-Cloud Profiling Radar

Vapor In-cloud Profiling Radar (VIPR), provides high-vertical-resolution water vapor soundings within the PBL. Importantly, VIPR implements for the first time the differential absorption radar (DAR) approach to provide sounding within the cloudy and precipitating volumes.  

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Twin Otter, NASA P-3 Orion - WFF, DC-8 -AFRC
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Airborne Third Generation Precipitation Radar

The APR-3 is a three frequency (13, 35, and 94 GHz), Doppler, dual-polarization radar system. It has a downward looking antenna that performs cross track scans, covering a swath that is +/- 25 to each side of the aircraft path. Additional features include: simultaneous dual-frequency, matched beam operation, simultaneous measurement of both like- and cross-polarized signals at both frequencies, Doppler operation, and real-time pulse compression (calibrated reflectivity data can be produced for large areas in the field during flight, if necessary).

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Airborne Rain Mapping Radar

The NASA/JPL Airborne Rain MApping Radar (ARMAR) was developed for the purpose of supporting future spaceborne rain radar systems, including the TRMM PR. ARMAR flies on the NASA DC-8 aircraft and operates at 13.8 GHz (Ku-band); it has Doppler and multi-polarization capabilities. It normally scans its antenna across track +/- 20 degrees but can also operate with its antenna pointing at a fixed angle. In addition to acquisition of radar parameters, it also spends a small fraction of its time operating as a radiometer, providing the 13.8 GHz brightness temperature. ARMAR is a pulse compression radar, meaning that it transmits an FM chirp signal of relatively long duration. The raw data is recorded directly to a high speed tape recorder. Post-processing occurs in two steps; first, the raw data is compressed by correlating it with the transmitted chirp, giving data comparable to a conventional short pulse radar. These data are used to form various second-order statistics, which are averaged over at least 100 (often several hundred) pulses. The second processing step takes the pulse-compressed and averaged data and performs calibration. This step uses data acquired by the system calibration loop during flight to convert the measured power to the equivalent radar reflectivity factor Ze. It also produces Doppler velocity and polarization observables, depending on the mode of operation during data collection.

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High Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler

HIWRAP (High-Altitude Imaging Wind and Rain Airborne Profiler) is a dual-frequency radar (Ka- and Ku-band), dual-beam (300 and 400 incidence angle), conical scan, solid-state transmitter-based system, designed for operation on the high-altitude (20 km) Global Hawk UAV. HIWRAP characteristics: Conically scanning; Simultaneous Ku/Ka-band & two beams @30 and 40 deg; Winds using precipitation & clouds as tracers; Ocean vector wind scatterometry; Map the 3-dimensional winds and precipitation within hurricanes and other severe weather events; Map ocean surface winds in clear to light rain regions using scatterometry.

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Airborne Second Generation Precipitation Radar

The APR-2 is a dual-frequency (13 GHz & 35 GHz), Doppler, dual-polarization radar system. It has a downward looking antenna that performs cross track scans, covering a swath that is +/- 25 to each side of the aircraft path. Additional features include: simultaneous dual-frequency, matched beam operation at 13.4 and 35.6 GHz (same as GPM Dual-Frequency Precipitation Radar), simultaneous measurement of both like- and cross-polarized signals at both frequencies, Doppler operation, and real-time pulse compression (calibrated reflectivity data can be produced for large areas in the field during flight, if necessary).

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Ku-band Radar Altimeter

The Center has been developing a wideband radar altimeter that operates over the frequency range from 13 to 17 GHz. The primary purpose of this radar is high precision surface elevation measurements over polar ice sheets. The data collected with this radar can be analyzed in conjunction with laser-altimeter data to determine thickness of snow over sea ice. The radar has been flown on a NASA DC-8 aircraft, and the NSF provided a Twin Otter aircraft.

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Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave Snow Thickness Radar

The Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets has developed an ultra-wideband radar that operates over the frequency from 2 to 8 GHz to map near-surface internal layers in polar firn with fine vertical resolution. The radar has also been used to measure thickness of snow over sea ice. Information about snow thickness is essential to estimate sea ice thickness from ice freeboard measurements performed with satellite radar and laser altimeters. This radar has been successfully flown on NASA P-3 and DC-8 aircraft.

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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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Sea Ice Thickness Penetrating Radar Instrument

* Detection of ice bottom surface requires frequencies in the range of 0.1 to 0.3 GHz to overcome the high dielectric loss in complex scattering medium.

* Detection of ice top surface is achieved with higher range of frequencies 0.8 to 1.2 GHz.

* Utilization of wide radar bandwidth (0.1 - 1.2 GHz) enables fine vertical resolution.

* Complementary sensors include laser altimeter (detects snow surface), snow radar (snow depth, 4-8 GHz) or radar altimeter (ice top surface).

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Polarimetric Ku-Band Scatterometer

PolSCAT is a Ku-band polarmetric scanning scatterometer operating at 13.95 GHz. with an approved NASA license. The transmitting polarizations of PolSCAT, alternating between Vertical and Horizontal, from pulse to pulse. Two receivers detect the V and H polarized radar echoes simultaneously allowing for measurements of VV, HH, VH, and HV radar responses. It provides scalable resolution, between 3,000 and 20,000 feet AGL.

The PolSCAT antenna assembly includes two axis gimbals for conically scanning, parabolic antenna, which is controlled from 0° (nadir) to 65 degrees. It was designed and built to investigate the benefits of active microwave for the remote sensing of high resolution snow-water-equivalent (SWE).

PolSCAT’s flexible design is compatible with many aircraft. It has flown on the NCAR C-130, NASA’s DC-8, P-3, and Twin Otter International’s, Twin Otter. Flown more than 500 hours in support of NASA’s Cold Land Process (CLPX) campaigns, PolSCAT is a very mature instrument.

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