Peter Hoogeboom, emeritus professor Radar Remote Sensing of TU Delft gave a shortcourse on radar altimetry to those who were interested and involved in NL-RIA’s activities to realize a constellation of cubesat-based radar altimeters.
The course started off with the properties and operating principles of altimeters and gradually deepened into all the design details that play a role in realizing such a sensor. And where the original altimeters of the previous century were pretty simple and straightforward radar systems, nowadays these systems are designed in such a way that they can not only perform in the traditional altimeter mode, but also in SAR modes with enhanced resolution and capability to measure in coastal areas and inland waters. The datastream coming from such a sensor will require a good deal of onboard processing. Quite a challenge for a small satellite, especially when compared to the big brothers like Topex/Poseidon, Altika, SWOT.
“It was really fun to give this course” Peter Hoogeboom commented afterwards. “Clearly a lot of unknowns were elucidated, and everyone around the table felt more comfortable to start the design of the radar with this newly acquired knowledge. Moreover, I learned a lot too. When I addressed my concerns about the high data rates and processing requirements in certain SAR modes, they convinced me that it was peanuts compared to the requirements encountered in bird and drone detection radars”.
Handouts from the course and an altimeter design spreadsheet are available on the resources page.