Harmonic Radar Systems for Near-Ground In-Foliage Nonlinear Scatterers

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1 March 1976

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The radar transmission equation for a harmonic radar operating over a planar, finite dielectric Earth through foliage is derived for an interesting class of nonlinear scatterers. The received power can typically depend on range to the (-14) power for small objects near the ground. The maximum detection range of a ground-based system is related to all major system parameters: it is most sensitive to polarization, transmit antenna height, and transmit wavelength; moderately sensitive to transmit power and transmit antenna area; and least sensitive to receive antenna area, harmonic scattering cross section, and mode of data processing. For example, there is seen to be a best apportionment of total available aperture area into disjoint transmit and receive apertures which can be well approximated by the equal gain condition. Also, there is seen to be a critical path distance through foliage; at distances less than this, small wavelengths are desirable and, conversely, the upper transmit frequency limit may be set by nonlinear scatterer response. Airborne synthetic aperture radar systems are discussed and quantification of harmonic noise and effects of scatterer fluctuation are made. A useful phenomenological model of a nonlinear scatterer is given that is consistent with some observations and predicts a frequency dependence. Nonlinear scatterer effects on range resolution are discussed.