Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Dr. Jacob H. Gunther


Synthetic aperture radar (SAR) is a type of remote sensor that provides its own illumination and is capable of forming high resolution images of the reflectivity of a scene. The reflectivity of the scene that is measured is dependent on the choice of carrier frequency; different carrier frequencies will yield different images of the same scene.

There are different modes for SAR sensors; two common modes are spotlight mode and stripmap mode. Furthermore, SAR sensors can either be continuously transmitting a signal, or they can transmit a pulse at some pulse repetition frequency (PRF). The work in this dissertation is for pulsed stripmap SAR sensors.

The resolvable limit of closely spaced reflectors in range is determined by the bandwidth of the transmitted signal and the resolvable limit in azimuth is determined by the bandwidth of the induced azimuth signal, which is strongly dependent on the length of the physical antenna on the SAR sensor. The point-spread function (PSF) of a SAR system is determined by these resolvable limits and is limited by the physical attributes of the SAR sensor.

The PSF of a SAR system can be defined in different ways. For example, it can be defined in terms of the SAR system including the image processing algorithm. By using this definition, the PSF is an algorithm-specific sinc-like function and produces the bright, star-like artifacts that are noticeable around strong reflectors in the focused image. The PSF can also be defined in terms of just the SAR system before any image processing algorithm is applied. This second definition of the PSF will be used in this dissertation. Using this definition, the bright, algorithm-specific, star-like artifacts will be denoted as the inter-pixel interference (IPI) of the algorithm. To be specific, the combined effect of the second definition of PSF and the algorithm-dependent IPI is a decomposition of the first definition of PSF.

A new comprehensive forward model for stripmap SAR is derived in this dissertation. New image formation methods are derived in this dissertation that invert this forward model and it is shown that the IPI that corrupts traditionally processed stripmap SAR images can be removed. The removal of the IPI can increase the resolvability to the resolution limit, thus making image analysis much easier.

SAR data is inherently corrupted by uncompensated phase errors. These phase errors lower the contrast of the image and corrupt the azimuth processing which inhibits proper focusing (to the point of the reconstructed image being unusable). If these phase errors are not compensated for, the images formed by system inversion are useless, as well. A model-based autofocus method is also derived in this dissertation that complements the forward model and corrects these phase errors before system inversion.


This work made publicly available electronically on June 10, 2011.