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GALCIT Colloquium

Friday, April 28, 2023
3:00pm to 4:00pm
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Guggenheim 133 (Lees-Kubota Lecture Hall)
Leveraging Ambient Radio Noise for Passive Radar Remote Sensing of the Terrestrial and Space Environment
Sean Peters, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Naval Postgraduate School,

Traditional active radars transmit a powerful electromagnetic pulse and record the echo's delay time and power to measure target properties of interest, such as range, velocity, and reflectivity. Such observations are critical for investigating current and evolving conditions in extreme environments (i.e., polar regions and planetary missions); however, existing radar systems are resource-intensive in terms of cost, power, mass, and spectrum usage when continuously monitoring large areas of interest. I address this challenge by presenting a novel implementation of passive radar that leverages ambient radio noise sources (instead of transmitting a powerful radio signal) as a low-resource approach for echo detection, ranging, and imaging. Starting from theory, simulation, and lab-bench testing, I first present the results of our passive radar sounding demonstration using the Sun to measure ice sheet thickness at Store Glacier, Greenland. I then project the passive radar's performance and ability to provide valuable glaciological observations (such as melt rates, bed reflectivity changes, and englacial water storage) across Greenland and Antarctica. 

In the second part of my presentation, I then extend this technique to enable passive synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imaging using radio-astronomical noise sources (e.g., the Sun and Jupiter's radio emissions). I conclude by highlighting applications of this technique to planetary remote sensing, such as (1) using Jupiter's HF radio emissions alongside an active VHF radar to characterize and correct for Europa's ionospheric dispersion during a flyby mission and (2) using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Shallow Radar (SHARAD) to analyze solar radio burst candidates for Martian passive sounding.

For more information, please contact Nathaniel Wei and Peter Gunnarson by email at [email protected].