Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) has been shown to provide very sensitive measurements of surface deformation and displacement on the order of 1 cm. Future systematic measurements of surface deformation will require this capability over very large areas (300 km) from space. To achieve these required accuracies, these spaceborne sensors must exhibit low temporal decorrelation and be temporally stable systems. An L-band (24-cm-wavelength) InSAR instrument using an electronically steerable radar antenna is suited to meet these needs. In order to achieve the 1-cm displacement accuracy, the phased array antenna requires phase-stable transmit/receive (T/R) modules. The T/R module operates at L-band (1.24 GHz) and has less than 1-deg absolute phase stability and less than 0.1-dB absolute amplitude stability over temperature. The T/R module is also high power (30 W) and power efficient (60-percent overall efficiency). The design is currently implemented using discrete components and surface mount technology.

The photo shows the T/R Module on the front side and the 30-W Power Amp on the reverse side.
The basic T/R module architecture is augmented with a calibration loop to compensate for temperature variations, component variations, and path loss variations as a function of beam settings. The calibration circuit consists of an amplitude and phase detector, and other control circuitry, to compare the measured gain and phase to a reference signal and uses this signal to control a precision analog phase shifter and analog attenuator. An architecture was developed to allow for the module to be bidirectional, to operate in both transmit and receive mode. The architecture also includes a power detector used to maintain a transmitter power output constant within 0.1 dB.

The use of a simple, stable, low-cost, and high-accuracy gain and phase detector made by Analog Devices (AD8302), combined with a very-high-efficiency T/R module, is novel. While a self-calibrating T/R module capability has been sought for years, a practical and cost-effective solution has never been demonstrated. By adding the calibration loop to an existing high- efficiency T/R module, there is a demonstrated order-of-magnitude improvement in the amplitude and phase stability.

This work was done by Constantine Andricos and Wendy Edelstein of Caltech and Vladimir Krimskiy of Santa Barbara Applied Research for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NPO-45147


This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
L-Band Transmit/Receive Module for Phase-Stable Array Antennas

(reference NPO-45147) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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This article first appeared in the November, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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