Radar Science and Engineering

The Radar Science and Engineering Section conducts research, development, and flight missions in the field of radar remote sensing of the Earth and the planets. Techniques utilized include synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) imaging, radar interferometry, altimetry, subsurface sounding, scatterometry, and cloud and rain radars.  Radars are developed for both airborne and spaceborne platforms. The section is also a leader in the area of planetary landing radars.



Accomplishments include the first civilian spaceborne SAR (Seasat, 1978), planetary radar mapping of Venus (Magellan, 1992) and Titan (Cassini, 2004), generation of the world's first high-resolution digital elevation map using single-pass interferometry (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, 2000), the landing radar for Mars Science Laboratory (2012), and multiple other pioneering Earth science missions (NSCAT, QuikSCAT, CloudSat, Aquarius, RapidSCAT and SMAP). Additional Earth and planetary missions will soon launch or are planned, including the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Mission (NISAR), the Mars 2020 lander mission, and the REASON radar on NASA's mission to Jupiter's moon Europa.


Areas of section expertise include:

  • Radar remote sensing concept and technique development.
  • Advanced radar RF and digital technology development.
  • Operational and experimental airborne radar systems.
  • Advanced radar algorithm and ground processor development.
  • Advanced landing radar development.
  • Radar remote sensing science for the cryosphere, ocean, atmosphere, biosphere, solid Earth, and solar system bodies.