UAV-aided weather radar calibration

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Weather radar is well recognized as an effective sensor for obtaining the microphysical and dynamical properties of precipitation at high spatial and temporal resolution. Radar calibration is one of the most important prerequisites for achieving accurate observations. In this article, a portable, cost-effective and repeatable radar calibration technique, namely, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-aided radar calibration, is proposed. A UAV serves as the stable aerial platform carrying a metal sphere, flying over the radar illumination areas to complete the calibration process. The flying routine of the UAV can be pre-programmed, and thus, the antenna pattern regarding different elevation and azimuth angles can be retrieved. To obtain the position of the sphere, the real-time single-frequency precise point positioning-type global navigation satellite system solution is developed. In addition, the radar constant is calculated in the range-Doppler domain, and only the data where the metal sphere separates from clutter and other objects are selected. The S-band polarimetric Doppler transportable atmospheric radar (TARA) is used in the calibration campaign. The experiments demonstrate the following results: 1) antenna pointing calibration can be completed and 2) antenna pattern can be retrieved and weather radar constant can be accurately calculated.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8818617
Pages (from-to)10362-10375
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Antenna pattern retrieval
  • antenna pointing calibration
  • unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-aided radar calibration
  • weather radar

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