Radar Systems


Our main categories of radar systems are listed below.  However, radar system designs may be readily adapated to suit specific customer requirements and we can readily provide fully customised solutions to meet special or new applications.

VHF Wind Profilers

VHF wind profilers are radar systems used for measuring horizontal and vertical wind motions in the atmosphere.  They range in scale from Boundary Layer Troposphere Radars (BLTR) utilising small antenna arrays and a few kilowatts of transmitter power to very high-powered mesospheric-tropospheric-stratospheric (MST) radars using very large antenna arrays of hundreds of antennas and hundreds of kilowatts of transmitter power.  Observing techniques are generally the spaced antenna method for the smaller-scaled radars and the Doppler beam steering technique for radars with a suitably large antenna array aperture with beam steering capability.  Hybrid systems may employ both techniques.

SKiYMET1 Meteor Radars

The All-Sky Interferometric Meteor Radar (SKiYMET) is a scientific instrument used for observing meteors and man-made re-entrant objects as they enter the Earth's atmosphere.  From these observations, a wide range of atmospheric and astronomical parameters may be measured.  The radar is cost-effective and compact and is designed to run unattended for extended periods.  It can be deployed with a minimum of time and effort, and is suitable for both permanent installation and for campaign use.  The system software is accessed with the use of a point-and-click graphical user interface, and comprises configuration, control, detection, analysis and graphical display packages.  The meteor radar has applications in a wide variety of areas including meteor astronomy, atmospheric physics, space research, space weather, space debris studies and space vehicle launch support.

MF Radars

Many variants of MF radars exist and in the simplest and most widely deployed form - the so-called ‘spaced- antenna experiment’ - three spaced antennas receive back-scattered returns from a vertically transmitted beam.  Signals received on the three spaced antennas are analysed using a full-correlation analysis (FCA) to derive winds in the height region of interest.  The same three antennas may also be used for transmission, or alternatively, a separate antenna array may be used for transmission.  More complex forms of MF radars use greater numbers of antennas and higher transmitter power to provide enhanced performance.  If a large array of antennas is used, a narrow beam may be formed and Doppler radar techniques may be used.

The simplest form of an MF 3-channel wind profiler uses three antennas spaced in a triangular configuration.  It probes the upper atmosphere by transmitting a narrow pulse of vertically directed radio waves and measures the weak returns backscattered from irregularities in the D region.  The same antennas may be used for both transmission and reception using transmit receive switches (T/R switches).  Many earlier MF 3 channel spaced antenna radars use a separate transmitting array of four half-wave dipoles arranged in a square with the spacing between parallel dipoles set at 0.5 lambda.  However, with today’s state-of-the-art modular solid-state transmitter systems, it is more cost-effective to use the same set of antennas for both reception and transmission.

Ionospheric Radars

Ionospheric radars can take many different forms to address a broad range different applications.  For example, an ionospheric radar for the study of field-aligned irregularities could be configured as a linear array of antennas orientated so that the radar's beam is directed perpendicular to the geomagnetic field at E-region heights.  The same array is used for both transmission and reception and the beam is steered in azimuth to scan the region of interest.  Additional outlying receive antennas would provide interferometric capability. 

Frequency and Time Synchronised Stations

High precision frequency references conditioned by GPS are used to frequency- and time-synchronise outlying receive-only radar stations with a transmit site.  This capability has a wide range of user applications.  For example, in an ionospheric radar application, outlying stations can be used to receive forward scatter from field-aligned irregularities.  In meteor radar applications, outlying stations can be used to receive forward scatter from meteor trails to allow determination of meteor orbits.  The frequency- and time-synchronised radar station is designed to operate in complete autonomy from the transmit site making it particularly suited for rapid deployment for campaign operation.

  1. SKiYMET is a joint development with MARDOC Inc.