Due to distances and relative motions among the transmitter, target object, and receiver, the time-base between any transmitted and received signal will undergo distortion. Pre-distortion of the transmitted signal to compensate for this time-base distortion allows reception of an undistorted signal. In most radar applications, an arbitrary waveform generator (AWG) would be used to store the pre-calculated waveform and then play back this waveform during transmission. The Goldstone Solar System Radar (GSSR), however, has transmission durations that exceed the available memory storage of such a device. A waveform generator capable of real-time predistortion of a radar waveform to a given time-base distortion function is needed.

To pre-distort the transmitted signal, both the baseband radar waveform and the RF carrier must be modified. In the GSSR, this occurs at the up-conversion mixing stage to an intermediate frequency (IF). A programmable oscillator (PO) is used to generate the IF along with a time-varying phase component that matches the time-base distortion of the RF carrier. This serves as the IF input to the waveform generator where it is mixed with a baseband radar waveform whose timebase has been distorted to match the given time-base distortion function producing the modulated IF output. An error control feedback loop is used to precisely control the time-base distortion of the baseband waveform, allowing its real-time generation.

The waveform generator produces IF modulated radar waveforms whose time-base has been pre-distorted to match a given arbitrary function. The following waveforms are supported: continuous wave (CW), frequency hopped (FH), binary phase code (BPC), and linear frequency modulation (LFM). The waveform generator takes as input an IF with a time varying phase component that matches the time-base distortion of the carrier. The waveform generator supports interconnection with deep-space network (DSN) timing and frequency standards, and is controlled through a 1 Gb/s Ethernet UDP/IP interface.

This real-time generation of a time-base distorted radar waveform for continuous transmission in a planetary radar is a unique capability.

This work was done by Kevin J. Quirk, Ferze D. Patawaran, Danh H. Nguyen, and Huy Nguyen of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-47730

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Goldstone Solar System Radar Waveform Generator

(reference NPO-47730) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the May, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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