World class hardware expertise for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Sandia is a world leader in the design and development of the hardware components for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems. With experience in the development of antennas, gimbals, radomes, electronics and more, Sandia has been successful in modifying and configuring these hardware components for various payloads and platforms.
SYNTHETIC APERTURE RADAR (SAR) SYSTEMS
Sandia specializes in building Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs) for a variety of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). These radars are custom designed to maximize power and bandwidth while miniaturizing hardware to fit on smaller platforms. In most unmanned systems the Antenna Gimbal Assembly (AGA) and Radar Electronics Assembly (REA) are co-located to minimize size on board the aircraft. Typically, processing is performed on-board and sent to a common ground station in real time. The ground station then provides imagery analysis and data management.
Sandia has experience developing Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems for manned platforms of all sizes. The radars are custom designed with the user's mission in mind. To take advantage of the higher power, processing and space availability, Sandia develops high performance, fine resolution radars with a broad assortment of advanced modes. Typical systems provide analyst displays, data recording, processing and all electronics on board the aircraft. The radars are often outfitted with pilot guidance software, enabling precise movement of the aircraft.
Radar Electronics Assembly
The Radar Electronics Assembly (REA) essentially generates all Radio Frequency (RF) waveforms, receives and preprocesses Radio Frequency (RF) echo returns, and produces the raw phase history data for the radar. It includes processors which control and service all real-time aspects of the radar. It often also incorporates phase history processing and image exploitation hardware.
Radar control primarily runs radar-related operations. It also must interpret user commands and control the system hardware and software collecting Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data.
Motion measurement computes radar movement, points the antenna and provides pilot guidance. The Motion Measurement System's Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) hardware are instrumental in helping to guide and point the gimbal while performing movement tasks. Sandia has made several breakthroughs in motion measurement over the years. Improvements include better characterization of existing instruments, and characterization and evaluation of newer, smaller, less expensive instruments.
Image formation processors are utilized in processing phase histories in Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs) and have been instrumental in the development of many new modes and capabilities. Sandia develops hardware and custom algorithms for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image formation that are well-suited for various architectures.
Advancements in state-of-the-art high-speed analog-to-digital conversion and reconfigurable logic arrays have prompted a digital revolution in the area of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems development. As system performance upgrades and advancements are made toward digital radars of the future, Sandia continues to innovate in the detailed design and hardware implementation of advanced digital receivers.
Radio Frequency (RF) Assembly
Sandia utilizes high performance electrical components for its Radio Frequency (RF) Assemblies. These assemblies offer broad bandwidth and high reliability. Sandia has developed and successfully tested ultra-miniature analog Radio Frequency (RF) assemblies for its smaller systems.
Digital Waveform Synthesizer
The Digital Waveform Synthesizer generates the transmitted waveform and the associated timing and control for the radar, using high-speed digital-to-analog converters and the latest available field programmable gate array (FPGA) technologies as processing engines. Throughout the years Sandia has developed synergistic advancements for miniaturizing and increasing performance on the hardware, setting the state-of-the-art in high-speed digital-waveform synthesis (DWS).
Miniature Components and Boards
With its in-house Radio Frequency (RF), microwave, and digital development capabilities, Sandia has designed, fabricated, tested, and integrated a multitude of innovative digital and microwave modules and subsystems to support various Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) programs.
Antenna Gimbal Assembly
Sandia has nearly 30 years of antenna and gimbal design experience for both airborne and ground-based applications. Sandia's extensive mixed signal and digital processing expertise has been optimized specifically for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Sandia's Antenna Gimbal Assembly (AGA) is well-suited for both small, tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and large manned and unmanned platforms. As a complement to its cutting-edge radar-centric features, Sandia's Antenna Gimbal Assembly (AGA) development may be modified for various payloads and configurations.
The antenna collects and radiates energy for the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system; in terms of dictating performance limits, it is one of the most critical components of the system. Sandia has broad antenna development, analysis, testing, and measurement expertise, including 3D electromagnetic modeling and simulation software tool suites, extensive fabrication capabilities, and compact range and near-field (planar, cylindrical, and spherical) measurement facilities. Sandia has developed antennas for Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Ground Moving Target Indicator (GMTI), Wide Area Search (WAS) (maritime and other) and a multiplicity of other radar systems.
Sandia designs and fabricates custom gimbal assemblies, which are inertially-stabilized, high-capacity precision positioners. The gimbal pivots and supports the antenna, allowing it to rotate about multiple axes, and is a critical part of the pointing system. Based on over 20 years of design experience, Sandia has developed gimbals that are well-suited for both airborne and ground-based applications. Sandia's MiniSAR gimbal is a perfect match for small, tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
A real-time airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system requires accurate measurement of the antenna phase center(s) in three-dimensional space in order to produce well-focused images with minimal target location errors. Sandia employs various grades of Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) (including custom-modified units) in the various radar systems, dependent upon customer needs and applications.
The Radio Frequency (RF) Front End assembly serves as the interface between the antenna and the radar electronics assembly. Primary components typically include the transmitter (which generally is traveling wave tube-based or solid state), low noise amplifier (LNA), receiver protection, and an array of passive components (filters, couplers, isolators, etc.) along with power and control boards. Sandia emphasizes miniaturized packaging and validates performance over temperature, voltage, vibration and shock.
Sandia utilizes several commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components combined with custom hardware and software to satisfy unique requirements with regards to Navigation, Pointing, and Control (NP&C). Sandia's full range of Navigation, Pointing, and Control (NP&C) capabilities include subsystem design and analysis, algorithm development, cross-discipline simulation, hardware implementation, system integration and performance evaluation.
Sandia develops large and small radomes for manned and unmanned platforms, adhering to the unique specifications of the platform and the customer's mission. The radome is generally specified to be spherical, with the gimbal rotational axes and the antenna boresight passing through the center of the sphere, in an attempt to minimize the asymmetrical effects of the radome onto the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) signal wavefronts.