With the continuity of successful research in SAR over 35 years it has been possible to channel the experience gained from the planning and implementation of international space missions into a national SAR program. Due to the end-to- end system know-how from data acquisition (including the Institute’s airborne SAR), system design to data interpretation and research into new applications, the Institute has become one of the leading international research institutions in SAR. The Institute is today recognized as a leading research center on synthetic aperture radar.
The Institute has a number of large-scale facilities to support its research activities in microwave sensor development and associated technologies:
The airborne SAR system F-SAR is the successor of the well-known E-SAR system of DLR. F-SAR is a totally new development utilizing the most modern hardware and commercial off-the-shelf components. As for E-SAR, DLR’s Dornier DO228-212 aircraft was the first choice as the platform for the new system. F-SAR is a modular system operating in X, C, S, L and P-band. Besides the fully polarimetric capability in all frequencies, it allows the operation of up to 4 frequencies at the same time with a data rate up to 1 Gbit/s per channel. The geometric resolution varies from 4 meters to 25 centimeters depending on the frequency band and user requirements. F-SAR is fully reconfigurable and will include innovative operation modes with digital beamforming on receive in future system upgrades. The main objectives of the airborne flight campaigns are the development of innovative SAR modes or operational configurations, the demonstration of novel techniques and applications, as well as performing preparatory experiments for future SAR satellite systems, supporting data product development, as well as SAR system specification.
In 2009, all Institute’s facilities and technological developments have been concentrated in a new building – TechLab – a center for high-tech microwave sensor development with several laboratories and measurement facilities, and approx. 25 employees. The main facility is a compact test range for highly accurate antenna characterization, as well as for radar cross-section measurements. Further facilities are a microwave chamber for measuring monostatic and bistatic radar signatures of scaled target models, facilities for determining the dielectric properties of material samples and a pool of ground equipment for spaceborne SAR calibration. Also included in TechLab are several research laboratories, especially equipped for the development, optimization, integration, testing and calibration of radar and radiometer systems.
The Institute operates also a microwave mechanical laboratory for the design, development and manufacture of microwave components, instruments and models, using numerically controlled machines. The laboratory also manufactures miniaturized and hollow components using galvanic and galvanoplastic techniques. It provides valuable consultancy for the researchers and developers in the specification and design of microwave instruments and experimental set-ups.