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Bistatic UHF Synthetic Aperture Radar Phenomenology

Department of Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering

About the Project

This project is funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) of the UK with the research conducted at the University of Birmingham, UK. The studentship will investigate the phenomenology observed in bistatic, ultra-high frequency (UHF), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery, in order to characterise the capability provided by such systems.

The project will be supported by experimental data collected from an airborne radar system, with funding available to conduct additional airborne trials. Specifically, the project considers passive radar imagery using digital television broadcasting stations as transmitters of opportunity. In this concept, a receive-only system mounted on aircraft can record television signals that inadvertently bounce off natural and man-made objects, and process them to form two-dimensional radar imagery. A system of this structure has numerous potential advantages, which include increased covertness, foliage penetration capability, indirect propagation effects, and cost savings. Those are beneficial for a variety of defence, security and remote sensing applications but to date these are not completely understood. The fundamental science and engineering behind this system was studied by the University of Birmingham with DSTL funding under the PASSAT Phase 1 and 2 programmes, where an airborne system was developed and shown to provide high fidelity imagery in different imaging conditions. Having understood how images with such a system can be formed, it is now possible to quantify the underlying imaging phenomenology they possess and this is the purpose of the PhD.

Thus, the objectives of the PhD programme are to:

• Perform an empirical characterisation of the behaviour of land types, man-made structures and clutter when imaged with a bistatic, UHF SAR system over a variety of imaging geometries using the existing PASSAT II data set.
• Develop and validate models which are able to characterise and predict the behaviour of various land types and structures when imaged with a bistatic, UHF SAR system over a variety of imaging geometries.
• Design, plan and undertake a further experimental campaign to gather data to validate or refine the models which have been developed.
• Use the models to characterise the performance of the system against various defence and civilian applications to be agreed with DSTL over the course of the study.

The project is well suited to graduates with a good quality earlier degree in Electrical Engineering, Physics or similar subject. The successful candidate will conduct their research at the Microwave Integrated Systems Laboratory at the University of Birmingham, which comprises some 30 researchers on radar technologies and has a suite of state of the art radar testing facilities and instrumentation. Additionally, the candidate shall work collaboratively with DSTL staff to ensure research relevance to DSTL requirements, while still maintaining the research independence to fulfil the PhD requirements. The candidate will also take part in relevant NATO Scientific Groups and attend meetings held internationally, to provide a more complete training experience and liaise with experts from across the world on their research topic. The studentship covers overseas tuition fees and a standard stipend, along with funding to support additional airborne campaigns, and travel to international conferences and NATO group meetings.

For enquiries, please contact Dr. Mike Antoniou () or Prof. Mike Cherniakov ().

Funding Notes

Due to the nature of the project the post is only open to nationals of NATO member countries and Australia. Start time: September 2020.


G. Atkinson, A. Sayin, A.G. Stove, C. I. Underwood, M. Cherniakov, M. Antoniou, “Passive SAR satellite (PASSAT) system: airborne demonstrator and first results”, IET Proc. Radar, Sonar and Navigation, vol. 13, no.2, pp. 236-242, February 2019. Y. Fang, G. Atkinson, A. Sayin, J. Chen, P. Wang, M. Antoniou, M. Cherniakov, “Improved Passive SAR Imaging With DVB-T Transmissions”, IEEE Trans. Geoscience and Remote Sensing, in press (Early Access).

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