ReCoSYP: Radar Techniques for 

Earth Continuous Observation

Exploring the potentialities  of continuous observation 

of the Earth with GeoSynchronous SAR systems

Project summary

The motivation of the project relies on the advance in the scientific understanding of key Earth processes that can be achieved by improving their observation with remote sensors, for which we propose a number of methodological and technological contributions.

Understanding changes in the Earth system and the impact that humankind is having on its delicate balance is one of the reasons that justify the study and development of new satellite missions for Earth Observation (EO). Future satellite missions will offer a stream of innovative measurement techniques to explore and understand different aspects of the Earth system, which could have a significant impact on the sciences of weather forecasting, hydrology, cryosphere, etc. as well as providing direct benefits to society. Among them, there is a special focus on observing and understanding rapid processes of the water cycle over land, in which soil and vegetation interact at a very fast rate.

One of the main limitations of current Low Earth Orbit missions (LEO) is the satellite revisit time, typically in the order of one-two weeks, which does not allow to capture fast dynamics processes. A major improvement in the time-scale of observations is the development of geosynchronous SAR missions (GEOSAR) which, for the first time, would allow for continuous monitoring. Their design entails strong technical challenges but, at the same time, offers a completely new observation scheme, which potential is not yet fully understood. In the meantime, and thanks to the highly increased number of LEO SAR’s currently in operation, all attempts to increase the refresh rate of EO information need to be based on combining images from multiple sources and on expanding the current methodologies to process and exploit multi-dimensional data.

The main tasks of this project go around  the necessity to carry out preliminary studies and validation campaigns in controlled scenarios using, p.e. ad-hoc ground-based radar systems conveniently deployed on instrumented test fields.

The continuous observation of calibrated backscattering data of agricultural fields, in combination with ground-truth continuous acquisition of ancillary data such as soil moisture, crop and meteorological parameters, will allow the validation of the potentialities of continuous observation missions for agricultural and water cycle monitoring. In addition, these experimental activities are crucial to study potential SAR continuous observation problems, due to atmospheric phase screen changes and surface temporal decorrelation, and to propose and validate appropriate solutions.

Social and economic impact

Water is an essential production factor in agriculture. Climate change will have a significant impact on agriculture production in terms of water quantity and quality. As the world population increases, this problem does so. Farmers have always controlled the water cycle at the local level, but currently it is essential, and a priority, to have a global monitoring of the hydrological cycle in order to obtain a higher production using less water. 

For this reason, the contribution that a GEOSAR satellite could make monitoring the water cycle would be essential in the near future. These advances are also in line with the EU Green Deal policy. In summary, all developments carried out in this project to help a more continuous Earth Observation, especially by a GEOSAR but also with fusion of LEOSARs, will pay off in the future as a benefit for the population. 

The development of new high resolution radar instruments at 120 GHz for health care and automotive applications will have a significant impact on both the industrial environment and the social benefit they can bring.

Performed tasks / Tasks in progress

Exploitation of the HydroSoil campaign to study the capabi-lities of a geostationary SAR for continuous Earth observation

Analysis of the added value of new types of multidimensional EO radar data

Development of Radar/SAR sensors and supporting systems

Transfer and dissemination