NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II E1.05-7146
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Active Microwave
PROPOSAL TITLE: Novel Polarimetric SAR Interferometry Algorithms

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Mark Tabb
1690 38th St.
Boulder, CO 80301-3242
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

Polarimetric SAR interferometry (PolInSAR) is a recently developed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging mode that combines the capabilities of radar polarimetry and interferometry, as well as adding new capability from a synthesis of the two techniques. PolInSAR holds the promise of being able to provide unique data that can be of great value to the earth science community. By observing scattering volumes such as vegetation canopies, ice sheets, and dry soils using this new SAR technique, one can obtain and decompose scattering from within that volume. In traditional SAR imaging, all scattering that arises from within a three-dimensional resolution cell of the volume is collapsed into a single pixel value due to the layover effect. PolInSAR provides a method of separating the various scattering center locations based on their polarimetric properties. PolInSAR techniques, therefore, can address many issues of interest to the vegetation and environmental community, providing measurements of foliage structure and density, and potentially contribute directly to our understanding of the carbon cycle budget.

Vexcel intends to develop, implement and test algorithms for using and exploiting PolInSAR data. Many of these algorithms will deal with the "non-ideal" nature of PolInSAR data and involve calibration and compensation for non-ideal aspects of the data sources. (For instance finite SNR and temporal decorrelation effects) The algorithms will take the form of a software product and include tools for the easy manipulation and display of the data and associated derived products, as well as embodying more sophisticated polarimetric and PolInSAR techniques. Delivery of the software to NASA will increase the value of the various earth-sensing projects already underway.

In the next few years several fully polarimetric spaceborne SAR systems will be placed into operation that will be ideal for PolInSAR application through repeat pass observations. Furthermore, JPL has a phase 2 proposal to develop an ideal system for PolInSAR applications. The "UAV SAR" initiative, if funded, will develop a polarimetric L-band system designed to acquire repeat-pass interferometry. While the main thrust of this new SAR will be crustal deformation, the same characteristics that allow it to carry out that mission, (i.e. very good navigation and track repeatability) will make it an ideal PolInSAR system as well.