NASA Goddard Space Flight Center has developed a new radar approach that uses a single phased array antenna and a single-pass configuration to generate interferograms, known as Digital Beamforming Interferometry. A digital beamforming radar system allows the implementation of nonconventional radar techniques, known as Digital Beamforming Synthetic Aperture Radar Multimode Operation (DBSAR).
DBSAR is an L-Band airborne radar that combines advanced radar technology with the ability to implement multimode remote sensing techniques, including several variations of SAR, scatterometry over multiple beams, and an altimeter mode. The multiple channel data acquired with a digital beamformer system allows the synthesis of beams over separate areas of the antenna, effectively dividing the single antenna into two antennas. The InSAR technique is then achieved by generating interferograms from images collected with each of the antennas. Since the technique is performed on the data, it allows for synthesizing beams in different directions (or look angles), and performs interferometry over large areas.
Digital Beamforming Interferometry has potential in many areas of radar applications. For example, Goddard innovators developed the first P-Band Digital Beamforming Polarimetric Interferometric SAR instrument to measure ecosystem structure, biomass, and surface water.