2014 R&D 100 Winner
The space environment directly above the Earth is crowded with orbiting objects and debris. Accurate, fast imaging is necessary to protect assets operating within this debris zone, namely the International Space Station, low-Earth orbit satellites and other science missions. The Haystack Ultrawideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR) constructed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory was engineered for this task. The ground-based sensor installation produces images of orbiting objects and offers the highest-resolution long-range satellite characterization available.
HUSIR does this through application of synthetic aperture radar (ISAR) techniques. Like optical images, ISAR images are 2-D. However, the two axes represent range and cross range instead of left-right and up-down. Because the optical resolution is defined in terms of angles, the resolution of two adjacent objects is a function of the range to the objects, meaning that no matter how distant the object, its radar image resolution doesn’t change. In addition, HUSIR enables simultaneous multiband characterization with identical views of the object because the system can generate both W- and X-band (high-frequency) images for every object tracked. These multifaceted radar images allow researchers to determine the size, shape, orientation and motion of an object. Also, unlike optical sensors, HUSIR doesn’t require the sun to illuminate objects.
Ultrawideband satellite imaging radar
|The multi-year development effort to enable dual-band (W and X) operation of the Haystack Ultrawideband Satellite Imaging Radar involved the participation of more than 100 engineers and technicians, many of whom are seen here. Photo: MIT Lincoln Laboratory|
The Haystack Ultrawideband Satellite Imaging Radar (HUSIR) Development Team
Joseph Antebi, Principal Developer, Simpson Gumpertz and Heger Inc.
Monica Blank, Principal Developer, Communications & Power Industries
Michael Glynn, Principal Developer, MIT Lincoln Laboratory
Joseph Usoff, Principal Developer, MIT Lincoln Laboratory