MirrorSAR: A fractionated space radar for bistatic, multistatic and high-resolution wide-swath SAR imaging

Gerhard Krieger, Mariantonietta Zonno, Marc Rodriguez-Cassola, Paco Lopez-Dekker, Josef Mittermayer, Marwan Younis, Sigurd Huber, Michelangelo Villano, Felipe Queiroz De Almeida, Pau Prats-Iraola, Alberto Moreira

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces the concept of a fractionated MirrorSAR which is based on a set of mutually separated transmitter and receiver satellites. As opposed to previously published bi- and multistatic SAR systems, the receiver satellites are considerably simplified, as their main functionality is reduced to a kind of microwave mirror (or space transponder) which routes the radar echoes towards the transmitter. The forwarded radar signals are then coherently demodulated within the transmitter by using the same oscillator that had been used for radar pulse generation. This avoids the necessity of a bidirectional phase synchronization link as currently employed in TanDEM-X. Since the needs for fully equipped radar receivers, on-board memory and downlink are also overcome, the weight and costs of the receiver satellites can be significantly reduced. This allows for a scaling of their number without cost explosion, thereby paving the way for novel applications like multi-baseline SAR interferometry and single-pass tomography. Several additional opportunities make the MirrorSAR concept even more attractive. First, the separation of the transmitter and receiver front-ends reduces not only RF losses by avoiding switches and circulators, but it may also lower the peak power in the transmitter satellite by employing a frequency-modulated continuous wave (FMCW) illumination. This simplifies the design of the high-power amplifier and increases its efficiency. Second, the opportunity for continuous radar data collection enables new modes for the imaging of ultra-wide swaths with very high resolution, thereby overcoming an inherent limitation of conventional monostatic SAR systems. Third, the joint availability of all receiver signals in a centralized node offers new opportunities for efficient data compression, as the multistatic radar signals from close satellite formations are characterized by a high degree of mutual redundancy. Fourth, the use of a sufficiently separated transmitter satellite can avoid the risk for mutual illumination, which challenges the design and operation of fully-active multistatic SAR systems. Further advantages arise from the scalability and reconfigurability, which support new redundancy concepts and pave at the same time the way to new modes like MIMO-SAR tomography.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium: International Cooperation for Global Awareness, IGARSS 2017 - Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)9781509049516
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017
Event37th Annual IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, IGARSS 2017: IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing - Fort Worth, United States
Duration: 23 Jul 201728 Jul 2017
Conference number: 37


Conference37th Annual IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, IGARSS 2017
Abbreviated titleIGARSS 2017
CountryUnited States
CityFort Worth
Internet address

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