Pathfinder Airborne ISR Systems

Tasking, Processing, Exploitation & Dissemination (TPED)


Transforming Data into Actionable Intelligence for the Decision Maker

With the goal to increase decision superiority through enhanced understanding, Sandia's radar systems incorporate processing and analysis on-board the aircraft in order to quickly and efficiently provide the analyst with relevant data. Sandia strives to provide end-to-end solutions that leverage data and information science to facilitate rapid analysis that supports national security decision-making. In this effort, Sandia develops advanced exploitation methods, formally evaluated with working analysts in its Human Analytics laboratory, to ensure that its systems enable timely identification of critical events, patterns, and trends.

Tasking & CONOPS Development

Pre-Mission Analysis & Flight Planning

TPED 1Sandia develops and utilizes special programs and tools to understand the suitability for radar imaging in specific terrains and environments, as well as to develop flight plans that meet the customer's unique objectives. Sandia's pre-mission analysis automatically calculates, identifies and reports line of sight and terrain suitability data for decision makers. Sandia's embedded flight planner uses Google Earth to coordinate the flight of the aircraft with the movement of Sandia's radar systems, thus maximizing data collection to meet mission objectives.

Designing Optimal Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP)

Through decades of experience in developing mission ready systems, Sandia has become an expert in optimizing Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) surrounding its customer's most critical needs. Sandia works closely with the customer to understand the terrain, physical and political environment, and the adversary's actions and methods. Sandia has developed and refined highly customized Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTP) and Concepts of Operations (CONOPS) supporting a wide range of customer challenges, including Counter-IED missions, Surveillance & Reconnaissance requirements, and facilities protection, among others.

Real-Time Processing

Real-time processing allows for direct dissemination of sensor-derived findings in standard, highly usable formats to enable quick decision making in time constrained operations and situations. Sandia has developed highly sophisticated algorithms for automatic focus, Doppler centroid estimation, and range migration correction for unsurpassed image accuracy and precision.

Image Formation

TPED 3Sandia excels in the design and development of advanced algorithms for image formation with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Using high power and flexible image formation processors, Sandia is able to successfully process phase histories from numerous Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) systems that generate real-time raw imagery for rapid triage and assessment.

Change Detection Products

TPED 4Two-Pass Change Detection Products
Sandia specializes in the processing of two pass change detection products that deliver valuable intelligence to analysts quickly. By passing over the same scene twice, these products provide analysts with a recorded history of what has happened on the ground between the two passes. Two pass products include Coherent Change Detection (CCD), Magnitude Change Detection (MCD) and Small Mover Detection (SMD).

TPED 5Three-Pass Change Detection Products
Imaging the same scene three or more times enables image products that not only allow an analyst to understand changes between the passes, but also provides the ability to stack products over days, weeks or months in order to statistically extract normal "patterns of life" at frequently visited sites. In addition, three pass products have the ability to show only the most recent changes in a scene by suppressing areas of low correlation, such as the subtle movement of trees.

Transmission of Real-Time Products

TPED 6Sandia and its partners have made significant progress in the transmission of real-time processed products for analysis and storage. Utilizing several communications and command technologies, advanced compression techniques and data downlink technologies, Sandia has delivered more data to the user at higher downlink rates without sacrificing image quality. Additionally, Sandia develops custom systems which process and transmit data to analysts on-board or in a ground station depending on the specific needs of the mission.

Exploitation and Dissemination

Advanced Sensor Exploitation & Dissemination

TPED 7Sandia is working to address the nation's need for deeper insights into the exponentially growing magnitude of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) data volumes. Sandia's expertise enables predictive rather than reactive Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), giving decision makers valuable support solutions for national security applications.

Coherent Change Detection (CCD)

TPED 8Coherent Change Detection (CCD) is a highly sensitive technique that identifies subtle differences that occur in a ground scene between two Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) passes. To detect whether or not a change has occurred, two images are taken of the same scene, but at different times. These images are then geometrically registered so that the pixels align in each image. After the images are registered, they are cross-correlated. Where a change has not occurred between the imaging passes, correlation remains high. If a change has occurred correlation will be low.

Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR)

Missions 3DInterferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) utilizes two or more Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images collected from slightly different grazing angles to yield a topographic map of the scene. The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images are coherently compared or "interfered" to ascertain the phase differences between image pixels, creating an interferogram. This product allows target scene topographic height information to be calculated. Sandia has fielded both two-pass and single-pass, multi-phase center antenna, real-time Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (IFSAR) systems.


TPED 10Vibrometry is the detection and measurement of vibrating objects in a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) image. Vibration characteristics can offer equipment feature clues. A periodic vibration generates sidelobes in the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Doppler-frequency response, which can be used to detect and analyze vibrations from a target of interest.

Stereo Processing

TPED 12Two Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images formed from suitably different data collection geometries can be compared such that feature displacements from one image to another can be analyzed to calculate height or topographic information. Stereo Processing is a natural technique for generating high-quality topographic maps.

Automatic Target Recognition (ATR)

TPED 13Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) is a computer-aided targeting application for imaging systems such as Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). Much of the pioneering work in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) was performed at Sandia in the 1990s. The currently fielded F-35 Joint Strike Fighter's radar has a targeting mode that uses Sandia-developed technology. Sandia's missionized Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) capabilities support real-time, enhanced situational awareness. Pathfinder systems include class identification with confidence intervals and move stop move tracking.

Human Analytics

TPED 14Human Analytics brings cognitive and perceptual psychology, team performance, interaction design and rigorous user evaluation to the challenge of making advanced radar systems usable and adoptable in high-throughput, high-consequence mission spaces. Sandia's expertise in Cognitive Work Analysis, Cognitive Task Analysis, and Human-Information Interaction supports the design, development and evaluation of user interfaces and interaction models to ensure that these systems minimize extraneous cognitive and perceptual load. This allows users to focus on the important work of detecting, classifying and communicating critical signatures for high-consequence decision-making.