Radar is an object detection system that uses electromagnetic waves to identify the range, altitude, direction, or speed of both moving and fixed objects such as aircraft, ships, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The term RADAR was coined in 1941 as an acronym for radio detection and ranging. The term has since entered the English language as a standard word, radar, losing the capitalization. Radar was originally called RDF (Radio Direction Finder, now used as a totally different device) in the United Kingdom.
A radar system has a transmitter that emits microwaves or radio waves. These waves are in phase when emitted, and when they come into contact with an object are scattered in all directions. The signal is thus partly reflected back and it has a slight change of wavelength (and thus frequency) if the target is moving. The receiver is usually, but not always, in the same location as the transmitter. Although the signal returned is usually very weak, the signal can be amplified through use of electronic techniques in the receiver and in the antenna configuration. This enables radar to detect objects at ranges where other emissions, such as sound or visible light, would be too weak to detect. Radar uses include meteorological detection of precipitation, measuring ocean surface waves, air traffic control, police detection of speeding traffic, determining the speed of basesballs and by the military.
RAdio Detection And Ranging ,in short RADAR relies on sending and receiving electromagnetic radiation, usually in the form of radio waves (see Radio) or microwaves. Electromagnetic radiation is energy that moves in waves at or near the speed of light. The characteristics of electromagnetic waves depend on their wavelength. Gamma rays and X rays have very short wavelengths. Visible light is a tiny slice of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths longer than X rays, but shorter than microwaves. Radar systems use long-wavelength electromagnetic radiation in the microwave and radio ranges. Because of their long wavelengths, radio waves and microwaves tend to reflect better than shorter wavelength radiation, which tends to scatter or be absorbed before it gets to the target. Radio waves at the long-wavelength end of the spectrum will even reflect off of the atmospheres ionosphere, a layer of electrically-charged particles in the earths atmosphere. The challenges for radar are stealth technology,clutter,jamming. It has certain applications like the traffic control,maritime navigation,millitary safety,air traffic control,meteorology etc.
Several inventors, scientists, and engineers contributed to the development of radar. The first to use radio waves to detect "the presence of distant metallic objects" was Christian Hülsmeyer, who in 1904 demonstrated the feasibility of detecting the presence of a ship in dense fog, but not its distance.He received Reichspatent Nr. 165546 for his pre-radar device in April 1904, and later patent 169154 for a related amendment for ranging. He also received a patent in England for his telemobiloscope on September 22, 1904.
In August 1917 Nikola Tesla first established principles regarding frequency and power level for the first primitive radar units. He stated, " by their [standing electromagnetic waves] use we may produce at will, from a sending station, an electrical effect in any particular region of the globe; [with which] we may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea, the distance traversed by the same, or its speed."
Before the Second World War developments by the Americans, the Germans, the French, the Soviets, and the British led to the modern version of radar. In 1934 the French Émile Girardeau stated he was building a radar system "conceived according to the principles stated by Tesla" and obtained a patent (French Patent n° 788795 in 1934) for a working dual radar system, a part of which was installed on the Normandie liner in 1935. The same year, American Dr. Robert M. Page tested the first monopulse radar and the Soviet military engineer P.K.Oschepkov, in collaboration with Leningrad Electrophysical Institute, produced an experimental apparatus RAPID capable of detecting an aircraft within 3 km of a receiver. Hungarian Zoltán Bay produced a working model by 1936 at the Tungsram laboratory in the same vein.
However, it was the British who were the first to fully exploit it as a defence against aircraft attack. This was spurred on by fears that the Germans were developing death rays. Following a study of the possibility of propagating electromagnetic energy and the likely effect, the British scientists asked by the Air Ministry to investigate concluded that a death ray was impractical but detection of aircraft appeared feasible. Robert Watson-Watt demonstrated to his superiors the capabilities of a working prototype and patented the device in 1935 (British Patent GB593017) It served as the basis for the Chain Home network of radars to defend Great Britain.
The war precipitated research to find better resolution, more portability and more features for radar. The post-war years have seen the use of radar in fields as diverse as air traffic control, weather monitoring, astrometry and road speed control.
The radar dish, or antenna, transmits pulses of radio waves or microwaves which bounce off any object in their path. The object returns a tiny part of the wave's energy to a dish or antenna which is usually located at the same site as the transmitter. The time it takes for the reflected waves to return to the dish enables a computer to calculate how far away the object is, its radial velocity and other characteristics.
Electromagnetic waves reflect (scatter) from any large change in the dielectric or diamagnetic constants. This means that a solid object in air or a vacuum, or other significant change in atomic density between the object and what is surrounding it, will usually scatter radar (radio) waves. This is particularly true for electrically conductive materials, such as metal and carbon fiber, making radar particularly well suited to the detection of aircraft and ships. Radar absorbing material, containing resistive and sometimes magnetic substances, is used on military vehicles to reduce radar reflection. This is the radio equivalent of painting something a dark color.
Radar waves scatter in a variety of ways depending on the size (wavelength) of the radio wave and the shape of the target. If the wavelength is much shorter than the target's size, the wave will bounce off in a way similar to the way light is reflected by a mirror. If the wavelength is much longer than the size of the target, the target is polarized (positive and negative charges are separated), like a dipole antenna. This is described by Rayleigh scattering, an effect that creates the Earth's blue sky and red sunsets. When the two length scales are comparable, there may be resonances. Early radars used very long wavelengths that were larger than the targets and received a vague signal, whereas some modern systems use shorter wavelengths (a few centimeters or shorter) that can image objects as small as a loaf of bread.
Short radio waves reflect from curves and corners, in a way similar to glint from a rounded piece of glass. The most reflective targets for short wavelengths have 90° angles between the reflective surfaces. A structure consisting of three flat surfaces meeting at a single corner, like the corner on a box, will always reflect waves entering its opening directly back at the source. These so-called corner reflectors are commonly used as radar reflectors to make otherwise difficult-to-detect objects easier to detect, and are often found on boats in order to improve their detection in a rescue situation and to reduce collisions.
For similar reasons, objects attempting to avoid detection will angle their surfaces in a way to eliminate inside corners and avoid surfaces and edges perpendicular to likely detection directions, which leads to "odd" looking stealth aircraft. These precautions do not completely eliminate reflection because of diffraction, especially at longer wavelengths. Half wavelength long wires or strips of conducting material, such as chaff, are very reflective but do not direct the scattered energy back toward the source. The extent to which an object reflects or scatters radio waves is called its radar cross section.
In the transmitted radar signal, the electric field is perpendicular to the direction of propagation, and this direction of the electric field is the polarization of the wave. Radars use horizontal, vertical, linear and circular polarization to detect different types of reflections. For example, circular polarization is used to minimize the interference caused by rain. Linear polarization returns usually indicate metal surfaces. Random polarization returns usually indicate a fractal surface, such as rocks or soil, and are used by navigation radars.
Radar systems must overcome unwanted signals in order to focus only on the actual targets of interest. These unwanted signals may originate from internal and external sources, both passive and active. The ability of the radar system to overcome these unwanted signals defines its signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). SNR is defined as the ratio of a signal power to the noise power within the desired signal.
In less technical terms, SNR compares the level of a desired signal (such as targets) to the level of background noise. The higher a system's SNR, the better it is in isolating actual targets from the surrounding noise signals.
Signal noise is an internal source of random variations in the signal, which is generated by all electronic components. Noise typically appears as random variations superimposed on the desired echo signal received in the radar receiver. The lower the power of the desired signal, the more difficult it is to discern it from the noise (similar to trying to hear a whisper while standing near a busy road). Noise figure is a measure of the noise produced by a receiver compared to an ideal receiver, and this needs to be minimized.
Noise is also generated by external sources, most importantly the natural thermal radiation of the background scene surrounding the target of interest. In modern radar systems, due to the high performance of their receivers, the internal noise is typically about equal to or lower than the external scene noise. An exception is if the radar is aimed upwards at clear sky, where the scene is so "cold" that it generates very little thermal noise.
There will be also flicker noise due to electrons transit, but depending on 1/f, will be much lower than thermal noise when the frequency is high. Hence, in pulse radar, the system will be always heterodyne. See intermediate frequency.
Clutter refers to radio frequency (RF) echoes returned from targets which are uninteresting to the radar operators. Such targets include natural objects such as ground, sea, precipitation (such as rain, snow or hail), sand storms, animals (especially birds), atmospheric turbulence, and other atmospheric effects, such as ionosphere reflections and meteor trails. Clutter may also be returned from man-made objects such as buildings and, intentionally, by radar countermeasures such as chaff.
Some clutter may also be caused by a long radar waveguide between the radar transceiver and the antenna. In a typical plan position indicator (PPI) radar with a rotating antenna, this will usually be seen as a "sun" or "sunburst" in the centre of the display as the receiver responds to echoes from dust particles and misguided RF in the waveguide. Adjusting the timing between when the transmitter sends a pulse and when the receiver stage is enabled will generally reduce the sunburst without affecting the accuracy of the range, since most sunburst is caused by a diffused transmit pulse reflected before it leaves the antenna.
While some clutter sources may be undesirable for some radar applications (such as storm clouds for air-defence radars), they may be desirable for others (meteorological radars in this example). Clutter is considered a passive interference source, since it only appears in response to radar signals sent by the radar.
There are several methods of detecting and neutralizing clutter. Many of these methods rely on the fact that clutter tends to appear static between radar scans. Therefore, when comparing subsequent scans echoes, desirable targets will appear to move and all stationary echoes can be eliminated. Sea clutter can be reduced by using horizontal polarization, while rain is reduced with circular polarization (note that meteorological radars wish for the opposite effect, therefore using linear polarization the better to detect precipitation). Other methods attempt to increase the signal-to-clutter ratio.
Constant False Alarm Rate (CFAR, a form of Automatic Gain Control, or AGC) is a method relying on the fact that clutter returns far outnumber echoes from targets of interest. The receiver's gain is automatically adjusted to maintain a constant level of overall visible clutter. While this does not help detect targets masked by stronger surrounding clutter, it does help to distinguish strong target sources. In the past, radar AGC was electronically controlled and affected the gain of the entire radar receiver. As radars evolved, AGC became computer-software controlled, and affected the gain with greater granularity, in specific detection cells.
Clutter may also originate from multipath echoes from valid targets due to ground reflection, atmospheric ducting or ionospheric reflection/refraction. This clutter type is especially bothersome, since it appears to move and behave like other normal (point) targets of interest, thereby creating a ghost. In a typical scenario, an aircraft echo is multipath-reflected from the ground below, appearing to the receiver as an identical target below the correct one. The radar may try to unify the targets, reporting the target at an incorrect height, or - worse - eliminating it on the basis of jitter or a physical impossibility. These problems can be overcome by incorporating a ground map of the radar's surroundings and eliminating all echoes which appear to originate below ground or above a certain height. In newer Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar equipment, algorithms are used to identify the false targets by comparing the current pulse returns, to those adjacent, as well as calculating return improbabilities due to calculated height, distance, and radar timing.
Radar jamming refers to radio frequency signals originating from sources outside the radar, transmitting in the radar's frequency and thereby masking targets of interest. Jamming may be intentional, as with an electronic warfare (EW) tactic, or unintentional, as with friendly forces operating equipment that transmits using the same frequency range. Jamming is considered an active interference source, since it is initiated by elements outside the radar and in general unrelated to the radar signals.
Jamming is problematic to radar since the jamming signal only needs to travel one-way (from the jammer to the radar receiver) whereas the radar echoes travel two-ways (radar-target-radar) and are therefore significantly reduced in power by the time they return to the radar receiver. Jammers therefore can be much less powerful than their jammed radars and still effectively mask targets along the line of sight from the jammer to the radar (Mainlobe Jamming). Jammers have an added effect of affecting radars along other lines of sight, due to the radar receiver's sidelobes (Sidelobe Jamming).
Mainlobe jamming can generally only be reduced by narrowing the mainlobe solid angle, and can never fully be eliminated when directly facing a jammer which uses the same frequency and polarization as the radar. Sidelobe jamming can be overcome by reducing receiving sidelobes in the radar antenna design and by using an omnidirectional antenna to detect and disregard non-mainlobe signals. Other anti-jamming techniques are frequency hopping and polarization. See Electronic counter-counter-measures for details.
Interference has recently become a problem for C-band (5.66 GHz) meteorological radars with the proliferation of 5.4 GHz band WiFi equipment.
A radars components are:
* A transmitter that generates the radio signal with an oscillator such as a klystron or a magnetron and controls its duration by a modulator.
* A waveguide that links the transmitter and the antenna.
* A duplexer that serves as a switch between the antenna and the transmitter or the receiver for the signal when the antenna is used in both situations.
* A receiver. Knowing the shape of the desired received signal (a pulse), an optimal receiver can be designed using a matched filter.
* An electronic section that controls all those devices and the antenna to perform the radar scan ordered by a software.
* A link to end users.
Radio signals broadcast from a single antenna will spread out in all directions, and likewise a single antenna will receive signals equally from all directions. This leaves the radar with the problem of deciding where the target object is located.
Early systems tended to use omni-directional broadcast antennas, with directional receiver antennas which were pointed in various directions. For instance the first system to be deployed, Chain Home, used two straight antennas at right angles for reception, each on a different display. The maximum return would be detected with an antenna at right angles to the target, and a minimum with the antenna pointed directly at it (end on). The operator could determine the direction to a target by rotating the antenna so one display showed a maximum while the other shows a minimum.
One serious limitation with this type of solution is that the broadcast is sent out in all directions, so the amount of energy in the direction being examined is a small part of that transmitted. To get a reasonable amount of power on the "target", the transmitting aerial should also be directional.
More modern systems use a steerable parabolic "dish" to create a tight broadcast beam, typically using the same dish as the receiver. Such systems often combine two radar frequencies in the same antenna in order to allow automatic steering, or radar lock.
Parabolic reflectors can be either symmetric parabolas or spoiled parabolas:
* Symmetric parabolic antennas produce a narrow "pencil" beam in both the X and Y dimensions and consequently have a higher gain. The NEXRAD Pulse-Doppler weather radar uses a symmetric antenna to perform detailed volumetric scans of the atmosphere.
* Spoiled parabolic antennas produce a narrow beam in one dimension and a relatively wide beam in the other. This feature is useful if target detection over a wide range of angles is more important than target location in three dimensions. Most 2D surveillance radars use a spoiled parabolic antenna with a narrow azimuthal beamwidth and wide vertical beamwidth. This beam configuration allows the radar operator to detect an aircraft at a specific azimuth but at an indeterminate height. Conversely, so-called "nodder" height finding radars use a dish with a narrow vertical beamwidth and wide azimuthal beamwidth to detect an aircraft at a specific height but with low azimuthal precision.
Types of scan
* Primary Scan: A scanning technique where the main antenna aerial is moved to produce a scanning beam, examples include circular scan, sector scan etc
* Secondary Scan: A scanning technique where the antenna feed is moved to produce a scanning beam, examples include conical scan, unidirectional sector scan, lobe switching etc.
* Palmer Scan: A scanning technique that produces a scanning beam by moving the main antenna and its feed. A Palmer Scan is a combination of a Primary Scan and a Secondary Scan.