This section covers the description of research activities within the INFOCOM Department that address the problem related to radar, remote sensing and navigation.
This area includes specifically the following major applications:
- Radar surveillance, for air traffic control and security
- Radar identification and tracking for air traffic control and security
- Radar altimetry and sounding for Earth Observation and Space Exploration
- Monitoring by means of radar imaging for Earth Observation and Space Exploration
- Navigation of vehicles (aircrafts, space-crafts, ships, cars, ...) and individuals.
Traditionally, the main research topics are related to the problems of:
- radar detection of objects based on the use of e.m. signals and their reflections;
- radar localization of remote objects in 2D or 3D space in terms of position and velocity;
- ISAR imaging for radar identification of cooperating and non-cooperating objects;
- tracking of moving objects by means of radar or multisensor measurements;
- radar altimetry and sounding
- radar image (SAR) formation of remote scenes;
- extraction of information from remote sensing sensors;
- self positioning of moving platforms or individuals by means of e.m. radiations
This includes the development of theories and system design strategies, the definition of modelling approaches and techniques for performance analysis, the development of signal processing algorithms and techniques for information extraction from the collected data. Several investigations were carried out within the department focusing on the above topics.
In recent years, the development of advanced radar systems with multiple receiving channels connected to antenna sub-arrays favoured a research effort on Adaptive Antenna Arrays and Space-Time Adaptive Techniques (STAP). The former is used for a partial control of the radar receiving beam to protect from e.m. interferences, but is also of major interest when considering multifunctional phased array systems, able to implement with a single antenna aperture the functions of radar surveillance, radar tracking, communication and electronic support measurement. The STAP techniques allow significant advances in the detection of slow ground moving targets from air-based or space-based platforms. These research topics have been funded by various radar industries of Finmeccanica.
Multi-channel systems are also being studied at INFOCOM as possibilities for the future generations of the COSMO/SkyMed Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), aiming at the moving target detection and relocation, sea surface monitoring, protection against interferences, and extending the imaging capabilities (increased spatial resolution or swath). This research activity is carried out inside different ASI projects (SAR-Muktibeam IIg, SAR-ECCM, SABRINA, CARMES).
ISAR techniques have been long studied at INFOCOM, to achieve very high resolution images by using Turn-table data (in collaboration with DERA, UK), and for the imaging of ships with static radar systems, by exploiting the ship motion components (roll, pitch, yaw) induced the sea.
Very important results have been achieved recently in the altimetry/sounding area, where recent research is related to the radar sensor MARSIS, which was designed inside INFOCOM. The design target to detect the presence of liquid water on the planet Marsis has been successfully achieved. The sensor is one of the main instruments of the ASI-NASA Mars Express mission. A second radar sounder, the so-called SHARAD (SHAllow RADar), has been also recently designed by INFOCOM for the NASA mission “Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter”, which the objective to analyze the mostly shallow layers of the planet Marsis at high resolution. Previous important achievement refer to the multimode radar of the CASSINI mission (NASA-SI) able to operate as radiometer, altimeter, and SAR for the exploration of Titan, a satellite of Saturn.
A specific research area is in the extraction of information from SAR images, where the emphasis is on change detection applications using long sequence of SAR images and the fusion of SAR and optical images to increase the capability to detect and identify changes in the observed scene under monitoring. This is carried out under funding of MIUR and EU for the monitoring of the environment.
Further research topics are related to the Satellite Navigation Systems (GPS, GALILEO) and their use in the air traffic control and telematic applications, and are funded by MIUR, CNR, industry).