Advancements in on-board processing of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data : enhancing efficiency and real-time capabilities

Parra Garcia, Laura and Furano, Gianluca and Ghiglione, Max and Zancan, Valentina and Clemente, Carmine and Ilioudis, Christos and Imbembo, Ernesto and Trucco, Paolo (2024) Advancements in on-board processing of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data : enhancing efficiency and real-time capabilities. IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing. pp. 1-21. ISSN 1939-1404 (

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Satellite-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) technology has revolutionized remote sensing applications by providing high-resolution and all-weather imaging capabilities. With the increasing availability of SAR data, the need for efficient data processing has become crucial. On-board processing has emerged as a promising solution to address the challenges associated with limited downlink capacity and final data products latency. Performing data processing and compression directly on the airborne platform reduces the raw data transmitted to ground stations, which offers several key benefits. Firstly, it significantly reduces the data volume to be downlinked, optimizing the usage of limited bandwidth and minimizing transmission delays. Secondly, on-board processing enables faster access to processed data products, allowing for quicker decision-making and timely response to dynamic events, enhancing the realtime capabilities of the system that are particularly valuable in time-critical applications. This article discusses various on-board processing techniques employed in SAR systems and explores their challenges, like computational constraints, architectural impacts, power consumption, and algorithm optimization. Furthermore, it examines the potential future developments in onboard processing, such as the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques to enhance data analysis and decision-making capabilities. The advancements in on-board processing have the potential to revolutionize the way SAR missions are conducted. By leveraging these techniques, SAR systems can achieve improved operational efficiency, reduced data latency, and enhanced real-time capabilities. This article emphasizes the significance of on-board processing in meeting the growing demands of SAR applications and underscores its role in advancing remote sensing capabilities for various sectors, including environmental monitoring, disaster response, and surveillance.